LeBron James Says He's Going To Need To Be Very Honest About His Body During Restart
As LeBron James stood in front of a camera before an interview over Zoom on Tuesday, he said he wanted a shorter chair so that he could ice his feet as he talked to reporters.
He was brought a wide chair with large arm rests that had a red velvet design on its back from the lobby.
A reporter said it looked as though he were sitting on a throne.
"It’s absolutely not,” James said, laughing. “It’s one of these hallway chairs that everybody sits in."
Nothing is as glamorous as it seems in the NBA bubble at Walt Disney World near Orlando.
The Lakers, who are atop the Western Conference with a record of 49-14, are two days away from playing in their first game of the resumed NBA season against the second-place Clippers (44-20).
But without sold-out crowds of nearly 20,000 people in attendance, games will feel hauntingly quiet.
"Everything is different and you have to be able to adjust to it," James said after Lakers practice Tuesday. "I don’t know as far as if it [will feel] like a home game at Staples Center. It won’t have that feeling. Because our fans just give us so much energy, our fans give us so much support and we want to try to give that back to them on the floor."
Without fan noise, one thing has become very clear -- James is extremely vocal on the defensive end. During the team's three scrimmages, his voice boomed above the sound of squeaking sneakers as he called out coverages and led his team.
James credited Mike Brown for inspiring him to be so active and loud on the defensive end.
"He came in with a defensive mindset, with a defensive strategy into Cleveland when he got the head coaching job and told me that he wanted me to be just as good as I was on the offensive end, he wanted me to be on the defensive end," James said. "It started with a lot of communication. So when I wanted to take that next step in my career because I wanted to get better and I wanted to compete for championships, I started to take that leadership. As far as my communication being loud, speaking calls out, getting to the film session a little bit more, diving into that. Mike Brown was very high on watching film, breaking down our opponents, breaking down personnel. Give a lot of credit to Mike Brown on putting that type of pressure on me which I love and became who I am today."
During the hiatus, James said on the Road Trippin' Podcast that an extended break was not beneficial for him, adding, "It's actually the opposite for me because my body, when we stopped playing, was asking me, 'What the hell are you doing?'"
James acknowledged Tuesday that playing in a full-speed real game Thursday after four months off will be a tricky transition.
"It’s like I’m restarting," he said. "You’re right. My body was wondering what was going on because it was right there where my body started getting into sixth and seventh gear into the playoffs. And then it was like complete shutdown. So I’m kind of just gearing my body back up. And the three preseason games help. While I played in two of them, I was able to train yesterday before the game. And then these eight regular season games that we have here will also help on getting my body where I need it to get into getting into the playoffs. I’ll be very smart listening to my body."
James was having an MVP-caliber season before NBA was paused March 11 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, averaging a league-leading 10.6 assists, 25.7 points and 7.9 rebounds a game for the Lakers.
James added that he's going to be very honest and open with the Lakers about how his body feels over the next few weeks.
"I just gotta be very real with myself, very real with our coaching staff, real with the training staff with everything that’s going on from a physical standpoint," he said. "But I’ve done a good job of trying to keep myself in the best possible shape during the quarantine at home, and just to prevent anything, anything that was to happen while I’m down here in Orlando."
James, who has been known to turn off his cell phone, stay away from social media and not watch any television with talking heads during the playoffs, said he won't have that luxury this time around.
Now, his phone is his only connection to his family.
"I won’t be turning my phone off during this run," James said. "I can’t afford to. I have to continue to check in with my family every single day. Check in with my mom, making sure everything is still going well especially in the uncertainty of what 2020 has brought to all of us. So I can’t afford to do that just lose direct contact with everybody. I’ll be as locked in as I can be under the circumstances. I won’t cheat my teammates, I won’t cheat our fans and I won’t cheat myself. I’ll be ready to go."
NBA players' families won't be able to join them in the bubble until after the first round of the playoffs, meaning James will be apart from his family for nearly two months.
James said this will be the longest stretch he's ever gone without seeing them. Before this, he went about 30 days without them during the Olympic Games.
James acknowledged that the separation is tough.
"You can’t replicate actual presence when you’re waking up and you’re in the living room or you’re in the kitchen or you’re outside playing with your kids or playing with your daughter, playing video games with your boys or working out with your boys," James said. "You can’t replicate that, I’m not there. But Savannah is a beast at what she does -- that’s controlling the home and being that rock for our family. So I’m not worried about that."
James added there's a definite hole in his life, but he's at least grateful that he's able to have video chats with his loved ones everyday.
"You definitely, you have that 'miss factor' when you miss your family, you miss your kids and things of that nature," he said. "But I thank Steve Jobs a lot and the team at Apple for having FaceTime because that is a beautiful thing to have especially during a time like this."