Long live the king. But is LeBron finally showing signs of slowing down?

News this week of LeBron's right ankle injury flare-up caused a little concern. Maybe it is just discomfort, may prove to be something more.

Long live the king. But is LeBron finally showing signs of slowing down?

News this week of LeBron's right ankle injury flare-up caused a little concern. Maybe it is just discomfort, manager Frank Vogel, commented,
'His ankle is battling some soreness; we decided not to bring him back.'

Those comments came after James was forced off in Lakers defeat to Raptors on Sunday night. The truth is that the Lakers are in a bad way, It is incredible the difference a year can make. Off the back of their chip in the bubble, LeBron's 4th, they looked very well positioned to at least re-peat; the prospect of LeBron catching MJ's haul of 6 rings seemed realistic. They entered the new season with a stronger, more complete roster than they had in their successful campaign; with the additions of Schroder, Harrell, and Gasol, many thought James and the Lakers were perfectly positioned to adjust to the hectic calendar. Deputy Anthony Davis would pick up most of the regular season grind, allowing James to tune his conditioning perfectly for another postseason.

Unfortunately, despite their best-laid plans, this is not how it transpired. A long lay off for AD left the Lakers and LeBron exposed, needing to play over 35 mins every other night. The increased workload could explain his injury in March, although it was an innocuous one, making you wonder how he has managed to avoid getting hurt more often in his career.

LeBron's durability may his most impressive quality, and that is saying a lot for a man who is considered number 1 or 2 in the GOAT debate. Drafted by his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003, the 2020/21 season is his 18th campaign. In that time, he has managed an obscene average of 38 minutes played in his over 1,300 games, numbers only Iverson, Kareem, or Malone could understand. LeBron has played more postseason games than any other player in NBA history to go with his regular-season heroics, the only active player in the top 10.
At age 36, surely his output has to reduce sometime soon significantly, but LeBron has proved his doubters wrong, so frequently it now seems foolish to make any disparaging predictions. Still, this high ankle sprain has led to his longest layoff, 20 games, and this flare-up meant he missed the Lakers clash with the Nuggets on Monday night. The latest reports of his day-to-day monitoring do not inspire much confidence.

Stories of LeBron's preparation are legendary. Like another ageing great, Cristiano Ronaldo, his medical team's authority supersedes any team doctor. Cryogenic chambers, massage therapy, and finely tuned dietary schedules are just a few of the many techniques he employs to, not just compete but, lead the league.

In typical LeBron fashion, he made a note of the long game.
'The most important thing for me is to be healthy and be at full strength when it really matters'. The Lakers, with Drummonds' addition, are still favourites in most NBA matchups.

The ungodly NBA schedule of the 2020/21 season is a mitigating factor; despite the NBA releasing statistics to show that the number of injuries this season is on par with those prior - it really has felt like momentum for any of the prospective MVP candidates has been abruptly halted by a lengthy injury. Jokic, the exception to this plight.

Many will argue, myself included, that James is still the best basketball player in the world, but his most recent niggle puts a little fear in every NBA fan. Is it just a flare-up after a considerable injury or signs of something more? According to the Lakers' reporter, Mike Trudell, Vogel's move was just an attempt to manage his load after his absence.

Regardless, you cannot help but wonder whether we are starting to see father time catch up with the great. Is King James' reign coming to an end?