Watching Anthony Davis hobble off the court during NBA champions Los Angeles Lakers season-ending loss to the Phoenix Suns this past Thursday night was a familiar sight we have become accustomed to. A visual that star frontman and teammate LeBron James said was the story of their season.
“I think health played a big part in the position we were in,” Davis said following the Lakers season wrap-up in a 113-100 loss to the Suns, who closed the series out four games to 2 in their first best-of-seven series Western conference first-round NBA playoff series.
“Me missing 30 games, Bron missing a vast number of games… we just weren’t healthy. We were very healthy last year; it just wasn’t the same this year. And we couldn’t have our full product on the floor.”
Anthony Davis was absent for half of the 72-game regular season because of the countless injuries he suffered.
During the game four meeting against the Suns, Davis was already suffering from a sore knee when a dreaded groin strain forced him to sit out the second half and the entirety of game 5.
His return to game six coincidentally handed Davis six minutes without a single score until he was limping off the court; meanwhile, Devin Booker nailed home 22 points in the first quarter, and Phoenix controlled the game there on out to claim victory.
LeBron James commented that Thursday’s defeat and losing the previous three games are not the moments he’d look back on with regret: “The one thing that bothers me more than anything is we never got an opportunity to see our full team,” James said.
“We could never fully get into a rhythm; we could never see the full potential of what we were capable of.”
Following their successful championship finals against the Miami Heat during the NBA’s quarantine bubble last year, the Lakers were completely aware that repeating the same outcome would be a difficult task. But even the best online sportsbooks couldn’t have predicted this year’s ups and downs.
The coronavirus pandemic has caused sporting leagues across the world to adapt, including the NBA leagues ongoing COVID-19 protocols – constant testing and contact tracing has caused the players to miss out on valuable court time.
“From the moment we entered the bubble to today, it’s been draining,” LeBron said. “Mentally, spiritually, emotionally draining.
“Every team has to deal with it, obviously, but with us and Miami going long-haul in the bubble and coming back on short notice, it’s been very draining,” he said.
“But all in all, I give my hat’s off to everyone in this team who showed up every day to work, showed up every day to compete, showed up every day to put in the time and the effort.”
Anthony Davis Calf/Achilles injuries of 2021 have been the most damaging to the Lakers. Having played just 36 of the 72 regular season fixtures in 2020-21, these said injuries naturally caused Lakers coaches to become extremely cautious when handling the player’s court time. It has been the first significant injury that Davis has suffered since becoming a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, and hopefully the last.
Of course, where there is a valid excuse for a team’s downfall, resentful Charles Barkley will be looming in the distance to stir the pot and cause some media drama. The Lakers star missing game five and playing limited minutes for game 4 and 6 caused the harsh critic in Barkley to call Anthony Davis “street clothes”.
After the game six loss against the Suns, Davis responded to the comments that he needs to prove himself: “I don’t have to prove nothing to anyone,” he said. “I’m not going to prove anything to anyone. It doesn’t matter to me.
“The things that everybody is saying. It comes with the territory. When you’re a player of my calibre, guys expect things from you and are going to say things about you. Whatever their reason is, it’s my job to be on the floor. I know what I go through and what I play through and what my body goes through. The front office and coaching staff know. So, I don’t need to prove anything to anyone that’s outside of this Lakers organization.”