L.A. Lakers iron man LeBron James doesn’t need load management

At 36 years old, LeBron James leads Lakers in minutes per game
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LOS ANGELES -- With three straight, overtime victories for the Los Angeles Lakers, their go-to guy LeBron James saw a significant increase in minutes played over the last three games.

James played a season-high 46 ½ minutes in a double-overtime victory against the Detroit Pistons last weekend and then followed that up with 42 ½ minute effort in an overtime win against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday.

And facing the depleted Thunder again on Wednesday, James logged 41 minutes in his team’s one-point victory.

James did not talk after his L.A's win on Wednesday but said after Monday’s victory over the Thunder that he’s not tired. James does not feel it’s necessary to reduce his playing time allow his body to recover.

“Nah,” James said, when asked after Monday’s win over the Thunder. “I could sleep right now because the game is over. I’m decompressed now, but s - - - if we had more time to play, I’m ready to go. I could play right now if I needed to go -- all I would need is a warm-up, I could go into the weight room, get warmed up and I’m ready to go right now.

“But at this point, it’s 10:46 (p.m.). I’m going to do my usual thing. I’m going to go home, eat and I’m going to drink some wine and go to sleep. But that’s just because my body is shut down now. I took a cold shower, my body is starting to shut down and I’m ready to get in the bed at some point. I can’t speak for the team, or if the team is tired. But I’ll be ready to go on Wednesday.”

For his part, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said they will continue to monitor James’ minutes during the season, but also want to win ball games.

“There’s always concern, but his body has been feeling good,” Vogel said. “These aren’t scripted plans to go to overtime every night and get him up to 40 minutes. But he’s going to be in there in those situations to win the game. We’ll rest him after the game by telling he doesn’t have to do media. We’ll give the night off from media and give him the rest necessary after tonight’s game (laughs).

“Obviously, we’ll continue to evaluate how he’s feeling and his workload on a game-by-game basis.”

At 36 years old in his 18th NBA season, James leads the Lakers averaging 34.7 minutes per game, which is tied for No. 24 in the NBA.

With just 71 days to recover from his team’s NBA championship run in the Orlando bubble, league observers expected James to finally relent and take on some type of load management this season. However, James’ minutes are actually up just slightly from the 34.6 minutes per game he averaged last season.

“You heard from him, being tired is just in your head,” Kyle Kuzma said about the extra minutes played by James. “If you put your mind to it, you don’t really see yourself getting too tired. That’s always been his mindset through his unbelievable career. That dude’s a beast. So if he says he’s not tired and doesn’t get tired, he’s not tired.”

James also said he draws inspiration from another greybeard in 43-year-old Tom Brady, winner of his seventh Super Bowl title with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers handling the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 55.

Brady and his teammates celebrated with a boat parade, resulting in the Michigan product getting a little buzzed.

“For him to win another one yesterday (Sunday) in the fashion that he won, it was pretty cool,” James said. “It’s very inspiring for a guy like myself, but it’s two different sports. Two different positions. I don’t know how long I’m going to play the game.

“I don’t know how much more I’ll be able to give to the game, but the way I feel right now, we’ll see what happens. But I have no timetable on it. … The game will let me know when it’s time and we’ll figure it out then.”