Are y’all finished or y’all done crying about LeBron James taking his personal rest days during the NBA regular season? Once again, LeBron shows us why he is not, or should not, be judged by how many games he misses during the regular season (considering he only missed 8 out of 82 this season I might add), but rather how many games he shows up for during the postseason. LeBron James has won 21 straight first round series games, and just completed his fifth consecutive first-round playoff sweep, by defeating the Indiana Pacers this year. LeBron James has NEVER lost a first round series and has been in the postseason every year since 2005. A reporter asked LeBron if he remembered the last time that he lost a game in the first round, his response was, “Nah, I don’t.”
I do feel the need to backtrack a little, just to clarify my stance on the entire resting issue from this season. LeBron James was the only player who I had absolutely no problem with for taking games off this year. LeBron entered the league fresh out of high school at age 18 and was given the incredible task of taking a Cleveland Cavaliers franchise to a place it had never been. He has led every team he has been on in minutes with the exception of the 2014-2015 season (Kyrie Irving averaged .3 more minutes that season). He has ALREADY passed several NBA legends in playoff minutes including Magic, Larry Bird, Shaq, and yes, even MJ. LeBron, unlike any other superstar before, has led his teams to SIX STRAIGHT NBA Finals series; with the most recent being this past 2016 NBA Finals where he just so happened to lead his team in a comeback from a 3-1 series deficit (never been done before in an NBA Finals) against the Golden State Warriors. A team who had just broken the record for most wins in a regular season. During this series, he also just so happened to become the first player ever to lead BOTH TEAMS in every major statistical category, points, rebounds, assists, blocks, and steals.
I guess that’s enough reflecting on the past for now.
The case for LeBron resting could still be made just by using evidence from this season alone. Even with playing with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, he led the Cleveland Cavaliers in points per game and assists per game. At age 32, in his 14th NBA season, LeBron averaged 37.8 minutes a game, which led the Cleveland Cavaliers, excuse me, which led the entire NBA. Out of the eight games that the Cavs played without LeBron this season, despite having two fellow all-stars on the roster, they could not record a single win. These eight losses are what had people in a frenzy about the “rest issue” in the NBA. The Cavaliers ended up losing the number one seed in the East to the Boston Celtics, which gave added fuel to the criticism of LeBron James for his “lack” of interest in the regular season (you must be very disinterested to lead the league in minutes). I could make the argument that BECAUSE they could not win a game without LeBron all year, that they absolutely were right in resting him. If you cannot win without a player, then you need to make sure that he is in as close to peak condition for when you really need him down the stretch.
Now with all that I have just stated, I must say this before I continue; as someone who is nowhere near wealthy and cannot afford to frequently attend NBA games myself, I do heavily feel and sympathize with the paying customer that ends up on the short side of the stick of this deal. I sympathize with that person that goes to the arena the one and only time that they can muster up enough extra cash in an effort to see LeBron or any other player for that matter. I do also agree with the argument that if players are going to rest, they should probably try to do so during home games rather than away games where those fans do not get to see them 41 nights a year.
However, the basis that all of these teams and players were using for resting in the first place was: playing in a road game on the second night of a back to back increases the chances for injury. This is where I can also make the argument that if a player, LeBron James for example, tweaks a hamstring and has to sit out an extended amount of games during the season, there will be way more than a few paying customers upset with missing the opportunity to see LeBron James. I COULD ALSO MAKE THE ARGUMENT, that anybody who wants any form of an interesting NBA Finals this year should have been advocating to rest LeBron James even more than he was. LeBron James had to pull off something that had never been done to defeat the Golden State Warriors in last year’s NBA Finals. Well that same team that won 73 games, and was up 3-1 in the Finals, who LeBron had to exhaust every ounce of energy against to come back and defeat, replaced Harrison Barnes with KEVIN DURANT! If he needed a superhuman effort last year to beat this team, what do you think he will need to do this year? And who else in the NBA do you believe is capable of pulling off a similar feat to the one that LeBron pulled off last year?
I’ll wait …
Exactly. So while you might miss LeBron on a Sunday night ABC game during the regular season, where you won’t miss him is on any night during the postseason, so you might want to tune in ladies and gentlemen.
Aulton Hargett is an aspiring sports journalist and television personality.