LeBron James is Prioritizing Long-Term Health Over Lakers’ Seeding

LeBron James at the "Hustle" film premiere, in June 2022
LeBron James at the "Hustle" film premiere in June 2022. Photo by MediaPunch/Shutterstock (12969126ar)

The Los Angeles Lakers are hoping to have a strong finish of the 2023-24 regular season that would help them climb up the Western Conference standings and get a better seeding ahead of the postseason. But don’t expect their superstar LeBron James to jeopardize his health in attempts to achieve that goal.

Speaking with reporters after a 124-136 win over the Memphis Grizzlies, James said that he will prioritize his long-term health over the Lakers’ seeding.

“I got to be smart with it,” James said via ESPN. “If I’m not healthy, or [anywhere] close to being healthy, then it’s not good for our ballclub anyway. It’s not good for me.”

James pointed out the recent game against the Milwaukee Bucks, which he decided to sit out while dealing with an ankle injury. He said that he would have probably played in that game if he hadn’t had a long-term picture in mind.

According to James, he is being “very strategic” when deciding on whether to play or to sit out a certain game.

“Obviously, understanding and seeing how my ankle and my foot is feeling. But just being very smart about it, obviously. We are where we are, but our health has always been the most important for our ballclub,” he added.

The Lakers are currently on a five-game winning streak that alleviated some concerns that they might drop out of the play-in tournament. They are currently sitting at No. 9 in the standings with a 41-32 record, having 2.5 games in hand over the Golden State Warriors and 3.5 games over the Houston Rockets, who are outside looking in. The LA team is also just 2.5 games behind the sixth-seeded Dallas Mavericks, who hold the first automatic playoff spot.