LeBron James’ ‘significant soreness’ in left foot a concern for Lakers

NEW YORK — The only thing that can slow LeBron James from chasing down the NBA’s all-time scoring might be himself.

Along with teammate Anthony Davis, James sat out Monday night against the Brooklyn Nets, donning a striped sweater and brown boots instead of Laker gold and his signature shoes. But whereas Davis’ absence was planned as a part of his continuing rehab from his foot injury, James’ absence was based on soreness in his left foot, which has been listed on the injury report for most of the season (in some form or another).

“He’s experiencing some really significant soreness,” Coach Darvin Ham said. “So it’s gonna be the idea to kind of ease off him a little bit, let his body calm down a little bit, specifically his foot.”

James has been on a tear for the past month, averaging 35.2 points, 9.4 rebounds and 8.2 assists since his 38th birthday on Dec. 30. In his hot streak, he’s mowed his way toward Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s scoring mark of 38,387 at a blistering pace and needs only 117 points to pass The Captain.

But the flare-up might be a concern for the Lakers, who have needed James’ scoring load to win games – particularly with Davis missing 20 consecutive games with a right foot injury and still working his way back to full health. James has also been averaging 37.6 minutes in his past 13 games and played 45 minutes Saturday night in the Lakers’ overtime loss to Boston.

Normally it would be a surefire bet for James to play Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden, perhaps his favorite road venue in the NBA – especially since he missed the Lakers’ game there last season due to a league suspension. But Ham’s characterization of James’ foot soreness leaves at least some doubt if he’ll be able to suit up against the Knicks. Ham said he’d be evaluated first thing on Tuesday morning.

Ham has said throughout the season that managing James’ workload is one of his hardest tasks. James, 38, has never been eager to limit his minutes despite being in his 20th season. He played the full fourth quarter and overtime against Boston, desiring to stay in for long stretches in close games.

“He’s constantly communicative with me and letting me know how he feels,” Ham said recently. “And if I need to scale back some minutes here or there, I’ll do that. But again, he’s playing at such a level, he’s playing so well, it’s hard to do that. But it’s a necessary evil, without a doubt.”

The missed game, of course, makes it more likely that James will break Abdul-Jabbar’s record at home, either on Feb. 7 against the Oklahoma City Thunder or Feb. 9 against the Milwaukee Bucks (Abdul-Jabbar’s first franchise in his pro career). The Lakers have games remaining in New York, Indianapolis and New Orleans on this five-game trip.


After their locker room burned with fury over how their game with Boston went to overtime on a foul that the NBA acknowledged the officials missed, they spent Monday morning trying to get past their frustration.

After saying Saturday that the NBA could keep their Last Two Minute Report because he didn’t want to see it, Ham gave the report – which upheld the missed call – a dismissive wave of his hand on Monday.

“Man, in life you just gotta move on, bro,” he said. “It is what it is. Everybody saw what happened. Just gotta move on.”

The Lakers had a morning meeting that discussed, in part, their weak overtime effort, which multiple players acknowledged was affected by their disappointment following the missed call on James. Ham had some empathy for this, saying his players were human and that it was difficult to pick themselves up from how regulation ended.

In that sense, Ham said it was helpful that the Lakers had to quickly turn their attention to the remaining games of their road trip.

“I mean the beautiful thing about this league is you don’t have time to feel sorry for yourself – or pat yourself on the back,” he said. “You have to turn the page pretty quick, good, bad or indifferent.”

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