LeBron James

LeBron James will finally take a day off, sitting against the Kings

March 3

It's official: LeBron James is finished.

But just for a night.

That night is tonight, as the Los Angeles Lakers will travel to take on the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday without their superstar, who will miss a game for the first time this season in the Lakers' final game before this weekend's All-Star break. 

While one missed game shouldn't necessarily be news, it is when it comes to James, who is considered the iron man of the NBA.

"The King" – in his 18th season – hasn't missed a game since Aug. 6, 2020, playing in 60 consecutive contests for the Lakers and all 36 games this season. 

For context, in that time span, James' co-star, Anthony Davis, has missed 14 games. LA Clippers superstar Kawhi Leonard has missed 10 games. The Brooklyn Nets' superstar tandem of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving have missed 17 games and 11 games, respectively. 

James has just kept on ticking. 

However, LeBron's minutes haven't come without criticism, especially earlier in the season. After the Lakers secured the NBA championship on Oct. 11 in the Orlando bubble, the current NBA season started Dec. 22, a little more than two months later.

James was somewhere between unsure and unhappy about the start date.

The thought was that James would take it easy heading into the 2020-21 season – miss a few games here, exercise a little load management, try to remain fresh in pursuit of his fifth NBA title. 

That proved incorrect, and some – such as Skip Bayless – believe LeBron is chasing his fifth MVP award and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's NBA scoring record, and that is why he has decided to take the floor every night and play more than 30 minutes per game.

Before Wednesday, James played in 36 straight games to start the season, including four back-to-backs. He has played fewer than 30 minutes only seven times. He has played between 35 and 40 minutes 15 times and more than 40 minutes four times.

This season, the 36-year-old James is averaging 34.6 minutes per game, the fewest of his career but still good for 21st in the NBA, ahead of guys such as 32-year-old Steph Curry (34.1), 24-year-old Devin Booker (34.0), 26-year-old Giannis Antetokounmpo (33.9), 23-year-old Bam Adebayo (33.9) and 24-year-old Donovan Mitchell (33.7).

On Wednesday, Nick Wright gave his thoughts on James' finally deciding to sit a game and clapped back at those who say LeBron has been playing every night for selfish reasons, assuming that they will now have an issue with LeBron taking a day off.

James' first night off of the season will come in the midst of a 3-6 stretch highlighted by Davis' absence due to calf and Achilles injuries in his right leg. Davis has missed eight consecutive games and 10 of the team's past 12. 

James and the Lakers' latest loss came Tuesday at the hands of the Phoenix Suns, a 114-104 defeat at Staples Center. 

LeBron finished the evening with 38 points, six assists and five rebounds in 38 minutes, and Wright said that in his estimation, the loss didn't mean much.

As long as Davis is back at some point, the Lakers remain the favorites to come out of the West.

When Davis will be back is unclear, but what is certain is that the Lakers can count on James to be in the lineup on a nightly basis – even if he decides to take a day off once in a while.

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