quite considerably here at BDL, so it was a bit of a surprise to hear what his game total goals were for 2015-16 on Friday.We’ve discussed LeBron James’ minutes problems and fatigue issues
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As the NBA keeps an eye on an ongoing issue with his back and wonders if the planet’s best player is beginning to show signs of breaking down, James was asked Friday if he had a number in mind of how many games he intends to play in this season.
”Eighty-two,” he said.
Is that realistic?
”Yeah,” he said.
It’s realistic, but would it be a good thing?
James missed 13 games last season, which was a career high for him. He’s never played all 82 games in his 13-year career, but 2014-15 counted as the first time he’d missed double-digit contests in a season. Counting Friday’s Cleveland win over Miami, James has played in 914 career regular season games alongside a whopping 178 total postseason contests.
Due to the fact that James joined the NBA directly after finishing high school, his workload is just about unprecedented. At the same age that Kobe Bryant was coming off of the bench for the Lakers, and at the same age that Michael Jordan was playing 30 games a year for North Carolina, James led the league in minutes played and minutes per game at 42.4. He would average even more the next season, all while carrying several lacking Cavalier squads.
The idea of resting LeBron didn’t really take hold until 2013-14, when he sat several contests, and it was a point of emphasis in 2014-15: James missed 13 games with back and knee woes, and his 36.1 minutes a contest was a career low.
James played in 20 more playoff contests at 42.2 minutes per game following that regular season, though. He entered training camp wishing he’d had even longer off after playing deep into June, and he missed the bulk of the Cavaliers’ exhibition schedule after taking a shot to quell the pain in his aching back. During breaks in action he can be seen resting, Larry Bird-style, on the sideline next to the Cleveland bench.
James has already played more career minutes than Bird, and he fully expects to be playing some seven and a half months from now with the Cavs acting as massive favorites in the Eastern Conference. The NBA has done good (if unfinished) work in eliminating most four-game-in-five-night scenarios, but the fact of the matter is that LeBron James still probably has a hundred games to go.
If he wants to suit up for 79 more regular season games, that’s on him – nobody knows his body better. Why he would want to do that when his team flies to Philadelphia in January, or Charlotte in February (with Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving presumably playing at an All-Star level) might be a bit of a sticking point for the Cavalier coaching staff.
Then again, LeBron James more or less is the Cavalier coaching staff.
At one point in the 2015 Eastern Conference semifinals the Cavs were working without home court advantage, and they entered the Conference finals without the same advantage. Cleveland still took both series behind a rampaging LeBron James. It’s admirable that James, after rigorous offseason training, wants to give the fans their money’s worth each night out.
What he might want to consider, however, are the same Cleveland fans that would like to be watching him at his best in June.
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