The Cleveland Cavs have had a rocky start to a season that began with the highest of expectations. The Cavs off-season began by winning the number 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft lottery, which was followed by the signing of superstar LeBron James, and the acquisition of Kevin Love.
The trio of James, Love, and point guard Kyrie Irving had some problems initially. They were 3 stars in new situations trying to feel out their new roles, and create chemistry with each other. After a few weeks, they looked like a different team when they started to gel. Unfortunately, just as things were looking up, the Cavs season hit a snag. LeBron James has been sidelined for over 2 weeks with knee and back strains.
The characterization of the knee injury as a strain is important here. A strain suggests that he doesn’t have a degenerative issue resulting in bone spurs or other material that will continue to cause pain until he undergoes surgery to clean the joint out, similar to what C.C. Sabathia underwent this past baseball season.
James is a world-class athlete. He has a combination of size, speed, and agility, that is unparalleled in any sport. Size and acceleration combine to create force, which is a bit of a double-edged sword for athletes in general. While creating force allows the athlete to excel at their game, it also can reek havoc on the joints. Human joints exist to allow the body to move, but they are not necessarily equipped with the capacity to withstand the repetitive and intense levels of force that an athlete puts on them.
LeBron has been lucky to avoid major injury up to this point in his career. If his games missed due to injury are totaled, they add up to about half of an NBA season. Mostly, his injuries have been sprained ankles, the most common injury among basketball players at any level, and the only time he’s missed for a knee injury was caused by some tendonitis, which proved to not be very serious.
The Cav’s trainers will want to be cautious with James. The fact that James could try to play through the injury, coupled with the fact that Kyrie Irving is also sidelined with an injury, could make James anxious to hit the floor and help his team win. A player that has never experienced a major injury may be more inclined to push his recovery. However, Cleveland’s medical staff knows that James is not invincible, and it’s in his best interest, as well as the team’s, to keep him off the court until he has fully recovered. LeBron has been very verbal, leading up to tonight’s game against the Phoenix Suns, that he wants to play. He spent yesterday working out, as well as working with the Cavs trainers and medical staff. More of the same will continue today as they move toward the tip. It is possible we may see LeBron tonight, but he is officially listed as a game time decision.