Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the current season of the NBA was begun in December 22 last year, with regular season games running until May this 2021, followed by a Play-in tournament plus the Playoffs, with Finals happening in June. True, some problems were inevitable such as postponed games for contract tracing and positive cases, arena restrictions, and the necessity of the Toronto Raptors to temporarily relocate to Tampa for home games (due to US-Canada COVID level differences). With the regular games already in March, teams should be gearing up for the tournament and playoffs, but a recent mishap involving LeBron James might change how the league preps for playoffs.

It was extreme bad luck as ESPN reports, when on Saturday, March 21 not only did the L.A. Lakers lose to the Atlanta Hawks (99-94), the former’s top player and NBA face LeBron James suffered an ankle injury that might have retired him for what remains of the regular games. It was during the second quarter when Atlanta’s Solomon Hill dived to contest a loose ball with James and landed on the Laker’s right ankle. LeBron was sent rolling to the hard-court, clutching his leg. While he remained long enough to score a three, he limped to the lockers afterward.

The Lakers have confirmed that James is going to be out for some time due to his injury. An X-ray thankfully ruled out a fracture, but an MRI result gave the veteran player a high ankle sprain diagnosis. LeBron’s time away was initially given as “indefinite,” then later termed as being “several weeks.” Criticism was targeted at Solomon Hill, on suspicion that his dive was deliberate; though the Hawks small forward took to Twitter to deny malicious intent. James also Tweeted his current frustration at being laid out, promising that his return will be quick.

If LeBron does plan to come back before playoffs it had best be soon. While he traveled with his team on their Sunday game against the Phoenix Suns, he was wearing an ankle brace. The Lakers were pounded by Phoenix 119-94, and L.A. coach Frank Vogel noted that the squad would need to “find a new identity” as long as James is unavailable to play.

Image courtesy of Sports Illustrated