It may seem like LeBron James is going to do this forever, but he won’t. And that’s why any time missed in what is left of his prime cannot be dismissed as a small thing.
There’s a reason we all made such a big deal about what he was doing at age 36, in year 18...because it’s not supposed to happen. To that point, it won’t surprise me in the slightest if he recovers from his high ankle sprain faster than anyone could imagine.
But even though he was able to momentarily return to the game, both by the way he went down and then ultimately left the floor, you could tell he knew he was hurt—and now someone who once seemed invincible has suffered his two most significant injuries in the last several seasons. While we all assume he’ll be back in a few weeks and ready for the playoff run, assuming the Lakers don’t fall too far and have to play their way in, that doesn’t mean games missed are meaningless.
LeBron’s value is about to be on display yet again, but not in a way that would help him win what I think would have been an important MVP award, one we already know meant something to him. Not to mention it keeps Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s scoring record further away. James is playing not only for the moment but for history, and of course, whatever he does from here on out is only icing on his GOAT case.
I won’t doubt LeBron coming back 100% and with a vengeance that will make his absence feel irrelevant in retrospect, but it will be felt by his team and the NBA in the meantime.
Because as they say, and we’ll eventually say about James one day in the future, you don’t know what you got 'til it’s gone.