On Monday against the Milwaukee Bucks (7 p.m. ET on ESPN), James will play in his 70th consecutive game as he chases the first season in which he plays in all 82 games. Back in 2015, however, James was laying on the court during timeouts, propped on a towel in discomfort. It brought to mind Larry Bird and Steve Nash, all-time greats who saw their careers zapped in their 30s because of back issues. James needed two anti-inflammatory injections in his lower back in a 10-month span in 2015, one shutting him down for two weeks midseason and another wiping out his preseason. And the possibility was left open that he might need more numbing shots, an indication he was dealing with something serious.
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Raimon was a SEAL for 15 years and became a disciple of biomechanics when he used the science to help himself to get over a severe neck injury suffered during a parachute jump that Navy doctors struggled to heal. He purposely avoids the spotlight and doesn’t do interviews. James generally doesn’t speak about Raimon or his techniques, and he credits the Cavs training staff with working to keep him in the best shape. “Between Donnie and Mike, it’s a great one-two punch,” James said.
Seeing him turn his ankle nearly 90 degrees only to tighten his shoelaces and finish with a triple-double. Watching him show up four hours before a playoff game to get in a sweat-soaked workout, then play more than 40 minutes and score 40 points. And the topper: the time James gained seven pounds during an Eastern Conference finals game. Some Miami Heat teammates saw the scale and attest to it in amazement. James himself just shrugs and calls it “weird as hell.” The truly wild part is that it was from 271 pounds to 278 pounds, though James is much lighter these days.
It isn’t supposed to work this way. He could’ve easily gone the path of Larry Bird, whose crippling back problems left him flat on the floor during much of his last season before finally forcing him out of the league at age 35. But through his training methods, James acknowledges now he believes he has unlocked the key to staving off career-threatening concerns. 15. He has long been hesitant to share his training methods because he doesn’t want anyone to steal them, but he can’t remember the last time he needed an anti-inflammatory injection in his back and he continues to play the best basketball of his career.
Tim MacMahon: Ty Lue on LeBron James’ left ankle: “He says he’s OK.”
Tim MacMahon: LeBron James rolled his left ankle pretty badly, but it looks like he will stay in the game. Walked it off.
“I just want to get to where I should be,” James said after participating in Cavs practice Thursday. “The ankle and the foot injury just kind of kept me out and set me back further than I would like, but I got some time now along the course of these games that we got — we got two back-to-backs coming up so that’s going to help and we have some opportunity to get some practice time in as well.”
Rick Noland: LeBron under no minutes restriction. Lue: “He’s going to get tired anyway. He’s going to take his self out”
Mary Schmitt Boyer/Jodie Valade: LeBron is out getting ready. Still don’t know if he’ll play tonight. #Cavs #OpeningNight
Dave McMenamin: LeBron James, two hours and 45 minutes before tipoff
James, who has been dealing with a sprained left ankle, participated in shootaround on Tuesday morning in Cleveland, but didn’t speak with reporters and is still listed as questionable for the game. James has been slowed by the injury he suffered in practice on Sept. 27. He played in only one of Cleveland’s five exhibition games, and his absence has kept a starting lineup that now includes Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose from getting much floor time together.
LeBron James: Hopefully I can be Ready to get it going tomorrow night. So excited to have one of the greatest guys on and off the court with us. #TheLand
There’s no way LeBron James’ sprained left ankle will keep him out of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ regular-season opener against Kyrie Irving and the Boston Celtics — at least according to JR Smith. “Oh, he’s going to go,” Smith said after practice Monday. “He’s going to go, trust me on that. I don’t care what he’s got to do, he’s going to play.” Smith’s declaration of James’ status was far more definitive than Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue’s assessment of his superstar’s chances of suiting up after James missed four of the Cavs’ five preseason games with the injury.
Mary Schmitt Boyer/Jodie Valade: J.R. Smith on LeBron James’ availability Tuesday night: “Oh, he’s gonna go.”
Gary Washburn: #Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said he is unsure if LeBron James will play tomorrow but is preparing as if he will. #Celtics
Lue joked when asked why the seemingly indestructible James has been hampered by this injury. “He’s getting older, like me,” Lue said. “It’s something that he’s been trying to work on. He tried to come back and play and he might have tweaked it on that spin move, and that could have set him back a little bit.”
The Cavs have lost 11 consecutive regular-season games when James doesn’t play and are just 4-23 without him since he returned to Cleveland in 2014. But these Cavs are set up differently than those teams. Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose, and Jae Crowder are starters. The bench is much deeper. And the Cavs didn’t spend an entire training camp installing an offense in which everything runs through James. In fact, the starters played well throughout training camp without James. “I think we’ll be a lot better off. I think we got a lot of different pieces,” Lue said. “We’re deeper. A lot of versatile players. A lot of different lineups we can play. So, it will be different but I think we have a better chance, yes.”
LeBron James won’t play again this preseason, and there’s a chance he’ll miss Cleveland’s hyped opener with Boston. James didn’t practice Wednesday, a day after he made his exhibition debut after being slowed by a sprained left ankle sustained Sept. 27. Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said the four-time MVP is sore and has been ruled out of Cleveland’s final preseason game Friday night in Orlando.
James wanted to play even though he wasn’t at full speed. Following the game, he hinted that he might need more time off. “I definitely wanted to test it tonight knowing that at least if I tested it tonight, I have a week until the regular season started if I don’t play in the game on Friday,” he said.
LeBron James woke up Wednesday with soreness in his sprained left ankle as feared, and is effectively shut down for the rest of the preseason. As for James’ availability against the Celtics next week, Lue said James “got treatment all day today, so I’m not sure if we should be concerned or not. “But it’s pretty sore today so we’ll just see what happens.”
Tyronn Lue said that LeBron James showed some signs of rust in practice Monday. He’ll make his preseason debut Tuesday. “A little tired,” Lue said of James, who missed nearly two weeks with a left ankle injury. “A little tired. But he went hard and pushed through it. Just trying to get his conditioning up.”
“LeBron will be able to play the last two games and none of the guys have played with LeBron yet, so that will try to give the guys a chance to try and find a rhythm going into the season,” Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said. “Kind of a different way than I wanted to do it, but didn’t expect LeBron to get hurt in training camp. This way they can miss this game and come back and play the last two and try to get in a little rhythm with Bron.”
Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said LeBron James would not play Sunday against the Washington Wizards, leaving him with just two preseason contests to gain some court time before the regular season starts. James sprained his left ankle Sept. 27 and hasn’t played in either of the Cavs’ two preseason games — both losses. Cleveland fell 106-102 Friday to the Pacers.
Joe Vardon: LeBron will not play Sunday in Washington, Lue said
Jason Lloyd: LeBron (ankle) did not practice again today.
James ditched the goggles in the first quarter, but before that happened, Richard Jefferson made fun of him for wearing them. Hours before the game started, Jefferson gave fans the first look of the goggles as James playfully tried to tell him to go away.
Chris Miller: I’m told the league did not approve the glasses LeBron was suppose to wear tonight. Vs. @wizards. James will still play. #WizCavs #DCFamily
LeBron James said he suffered a scratched cornea in his right eye in Friday’s 112-105 win over Charlotte after being examined by a Hornets team physician. James, who scored 32 points in 40 minutes, could not keep his right eye open during his postgame interview session and said his vision was blurry. He was poked in the eye by Jeremy Lamb on his way to a layup with 31.2 seconds left in the third quarter.
Joe Vardon: LeBron is being seen by an eye specialist right now. Couldn’t keep his right eye open during postgame interview
Charles F. Gardner: LeBron James will play for Cavs tonight, coach Tyronn Lue says.
Chris Fedor: #Cavs LeBron James (sick) is not at shootaround. He is questionable for tonight.
KC Johnson: Cavaliers coach Ty Lue said LeBron James will not play vs. Bulls due to illness.
Good news, Columbus: LeBron James is scheduled to play at Ohio State in the Cavs’ preseason finale there next week. But not until then. Coah Tyronn Lue said James would not play Thursday at home against the Toronto Raptors, and it was already Lue’s plan to hold out James and most of the rotation players tonight against the Hawks and Friday in Chicago.
LeBron James did some “light work” on the court Thursday and has yet to practice fully since receiving an anti-inflammatory injection in his back Oct. 13. “We’re being very conscientious and cautious with him in terms of his feeling,” Cavs coach David Blatt said. “He’s fine and he’s gonna be fine, but we’re just going slowly and carefully with him. He’ll be out there very soon.”
Orthopedic surgeon Dr. William Pakan, who serves as team doctor for Kent State University, told the Northeast Ohio Media Group that an athlete who receives multiple back injections in the span of 10 months, generally speaking, is “probably suffering from a degenerative change in his back, to some extent.” Pakan has not treated James and agreed to speak generally about back injuries and injections. But he said that if an athlete such as James needed a third shot “over the next six months, it’s a likely sign of perhaps a small disc degeneration or bulge.” “At that stage, he may need to have something done (surgically), and when you start doing that, it’s never like it was,” Pakan said.
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March 24, 2018 | 5:26 am EDT Update
Think about it. It’s fair to wonder if the Jazz even wanted to win. Put yourself in Dennis Lindsey’s shoes. The Jazz GM has a solid team, a frontline center and an exciting rookie to build around. But he needs another star. The top of the draft looks chock full of them. So maybe, with your team stinking up the joint in January, you sit Gobert a few more weeks and join the race to the bottom. Earlier this week, I asked Jazz coach Quin Snyder if he ever had those conversations. “Never,” Snyder said. “That’s just not how we do things. There was never any kind of suggestion of that. In the larger picture, we’re finding out who we are. This experience right now, having to compete for a spot, there is value in that. Things might happen — you can’t take anything for granted. The result ultimately isn’t the only reflection of where you are. The goal for me is to continue to improve. Not X wins, or how many in a row, but how can we keep getting better. It’s how we started the beginning of the year. It’s how we are now. We aren’t overthinking it.”
“He pays attention to every detail,” Mitchell told Yahoo Sports. “Every little thing. Even at shootaround, if we’re walking through a play, if you’re standing in the wrong spot, he’ll yell at you, he’ll let you know so you are always locked in. That plays a part in development. When you are locked in all the time, you form habits.”
Tom Orsborn: Manu on winning six straight: “Unexpected to tell you the truth. Not that we aren’t optimistic,. But we were a little demoralized, a little down…But we can’t be satisfied. We have to go on the road and keep improving.”
“One thing when you’ve got a bunch of young guys is they don’t understand what it takes to survive in this league,” Bickerstaff said. “If you want to make it there’s a matter of bounce-back, a matter of pride, a matter of mental toughness that you have to show on every given night and every opportunity you get. What happened tonight… there’s no defending the way we played.
Bickerstaff nor Gasol were in the locker room when it opened for media after the game. Perhaps that was a good thing because several Grizzlies players didn’t appear to take the loss hard given the amount of laughter and joking between them.
Curry was not made available to reporters postgame. He wasn’t anywhere in sight once the locker room opened. After his first two ankle injuries, he talked to reporters. After all three that happened in-game this season, he was in the locker room, which gave an early sense of how he was feeling and moving, a peek at Stage 1 of the treatment. But this injury is different, it’s likely more severe and, for the first time during this recent rash of freak accidents to all their main guys, the return timeline is threatening to bleed into the postseason.