LeBron James returned to the floor for the Los Angeles Lakers Sunday after a 13-game absence, but that was hardly a guarantee based on the severity of his injury. The four-time MVP revealed Sunday that he had a torn tendon in his right foot. Typically, that is the sort of injury that would require season-ending surgery. According to James, two doctors told him that it would. So why didn't he get the surgery? "Because I went to the LeBron James of feet," James revealed. "And he told me I shouldn't."
It is not exactly clear who the LeBron James of feet is, but they apparently told James that he was healing from the injury faster than anyone they've ever seen. His performance on Sunday backs up that notion. In his first game back, James managed to play 30 minutes for the Lakers. He scored 19 points on 6-of-11 shooting to go along with eight rebounds and three assists. Sunday was a great start, and with seven games of ramp up left before the postseason, there is plenty of time for James to return to his All-Star form. The goal, for now, is to compete in the playoffs and address the injury again in the offseason.
"I'll probably get another MRI at the end of the season and go from there," James said. "But if I end up having to get surgery after the season, you guys won't know. I don't talk to you guys in the offseason, and by the time next season starts, I'll be fine. I'll be ready to go."
For now, the Lakers hold the No. 9 seed in the Western Conference, but they have plenty of room to improve. They have the NBA's fourth-easiest remaining schedule. The Pelicans, currently seeded No. 8, have the NBA's fourth-hardest remaining schedule, and the Lakers have the tiebreaker over them. That means the Lakers should expect to at least have a chance to play for the No. 7 seed if all goes as planned.
That seemed unfathomable when James initially went down during a 27-point comeback victory over the Mavericks. Now the Lakers can thank the "LeBron James of feet" for getting the LeBron James of basketball back on the court for them as they make their strongest push yet for a playoff spot.