After the longest injury-related hiatus of his 18-year career (20 games), LeBron James returned to the NBA floor on Friday night.
Through his first game back following his recovery from a high-ankle sprain sprain suffered in late March, James put up a solid stat line of 16 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in 32 minutes of play. Missing a game-winning three pointer with 2.7 seconds remaining on the clock, LeBron and the Los Angeles Lakers fell to Sacramento 110-106 after the Kings tacked on a couple extra free throws.
After the game, the 17-time All Star revealed how he felt in his first game back.
“For my first game in six weeks, I felt OK,” James said, per ESPN NBA insider Dave McMenamin. “As far as my wind, I felt pretty good. As far as my ankle, it was a little tight at times, obviously. … But I came out unscathed and pretty good. So it’s a good start.”
LeBron, perhaps the most durable player in recent NBA history, followed it up with a pretty surprising admission: at this point in his career, he never expects to be fully “100-percent” again.
“I knew I wasn’t going to get back to 100%. It’s impossible,” he said. “I don’t think I will ever get back to 100% in my career.”
During the Lakers’ 20 games without LeBron, the team struggled with a disappointing 8-12 stretch. With a 36-27 overall record, Los Angeles currently sits at the No. 5 position in the Western Conference, just one half game ahead of the Dallas Mavericks in sixth.
In the games that James has played this season, he leads the team in scoring and assists with 25.2 points and 7.9 dimes per game.
With LeBron James slowly getting as close to 100-percent as he can, and his superstar teammate Anthony Davis also recovering from injury, the Lakers should be an extremely dangerous No. 5 seed in next month’s playoffs.