Rest Rumors

My ESPN colleague Brian Windhorst has been covering James since high school. Who better to ask about how LeBron’s approach to injury prevention has changed? “When LeBron was a springy 18-year-old, he didn’t even tape his ankles regularly,” he says. “But now he invests hundreds of thousands per year on his body.” Windhorst reveals this fun tidbit: James has his own system of liquid nitrogen tanks to apply supercool cryotherapy to inflamed joints, and a black Mercedes Sprinter van with custom white leather lounger seats, in part to allow him to receive treatments on the go. On Slack, Brian writes that the days of acting invincible are over: It’s a nearly annual event for him to come into training camp with the goal of reducing his minutes. And sure enough, after he looked exhausted in the 2011 Finals and the Heat lost to the Mavs, his minutes per game declined from 38.8 in 2011 to 35.6 in 2016.
4 days ago via ESPN
That trend has reversed this season. He’s on pace to play the most minutes since 2013-14. LeBron and the Cavs have said this was by design, that James believed it would benefit him by playing more minutes to get into premium condition before tapering later in the season. But that hasn’t happened — as the Cavs faltered he’s averaged more minutes in March than November. To make matters worse, the Cavs typically ride him when he plays the second night of back-to-backs, when he averages more minutes than he does with one or two days’ rest. Last season, LeBron averaged a career low in minutes and a career low in playoff minutes heading into the Finals. It stands to reason this contributed to Games 5-7 in the Finals, when he played perhaps the finest three consecutive games of his career.
4 days ago via ESPN
LeBron can be as sophisticated as he wants, she says, with fancy vans and other “recovery modalities.” But “he still can’t totally hack his need for rest. He’s still going through these time zones. He can’t escape the need to recover.” The effects are noticeable short-term and only build over time. As Mah notes: “Stay awake for 17 hours and your reaction time is impaired equivalent to the level of legal intoxication.” On Slack she explains: Bottom line, you’ve got to charge up your batteries every day through various recovery modalities. If you charge up only 60 percent, you’re going to run out of fuel a lot faster than if you charged up 100 percent every day, especially over the long season. As for LeBron, I’d opt to prioritize increasing rest opportunities leading into playoffs to maximize chances of a successful title run. We know they’re not at 100 percent with this schedule. How great would he be at his full maximal potential, fully rested?
4 days ago via ESPN