LeBron James returned to the floor for the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, coming off the bench to score 19 points in the team’s 118-108 loss to the Chicago Bulls.
James’ status had been in flux leading up to the game against the Bulls. He had been sidelined for about a month due to a foot injury he suffered in February. He told reporters that he considered surgery after he was diagnosed with a significant tendon injury.
He said his doctors told him he was “healing faster than anybody they’ve seen before with the injury.” He added that he got a third opinion from an unnamed foot doctor.
“Because I went to the LeBron James of feet,” he said in response to a question about why he didn’t get surgery. “And he told me I shouldn’t.”
James declined to name the doctor who cleared him.
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He added that if he decided to get surgery in the offseason the media won’t know because “I don’t talk to you guys in the offseason.”
Los Angeles got James back with eight games left in the season as they hope to avoid missing the postseason for the second consecutive year. The Lakers were 8-5 in his absence.
“They go 8-5 and obviously had a chance to — the hell with the play-in, we actually can be a top-eight seed,” James said. “It definitely changed my mindset on me coming back and trying to be a part of this. Well, I don’t even want to say (it) changed my mindset.
“It just enhanced what I was trying to do as far as my workouts, as far as my treatment and everything. They played such great basketball. I was just ecstatic, from me being in a boot to me getting out of the boot, you guys saw me on the sideline, just so happy about what the guys are doing.”
James had only come off the bench once in his 20-year career. It came in December 2007 when he was a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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