LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James slammed the NBA on Wednesday (June 16) as Clippers star Kawhi Leonard became the latest player forced out of the playoffs by injury.
James took to Twitter to offer an angry “I Told You So” to the league, blaming the increase in injuries on the shortest off-season ever, which has been followed by a compressed schedule for the 2020-21 campaign.
“They all didn’t wanna listen to me about the start of the season,” James tweeted. “I knew exactly what would happen. I only wanted to protect the well being of the players which ultimately is the PRODUCT & BENEFIT of OUR GAME! These injuries isn’t just “PART OF THE GAME”.”
Instead, James said, the injuries were due to the “lack of rest” before play restarted in December – just 72 days after the Lakers locked up the title with a victory over the Miami Heat in the quarantine bubble in Orlando, Florida.
Leonard was ruled out of Wednesday’s game against the Utah Jazz with a sprained right knee, suffered during the Clippers’ series-levelling win in Game Four on Monday.
US media reports said Leonard could miss the remainder of the series, although the Clippers said there was “no timetable” for the two-time NBA champion’s return.
Leonard joins a phalanx of players who have been affected by injury in the playoffs, including James himself and teammate Anthony Davis – who suffered a groin strain during the Lakers’ first-round series loss to the Phoenix Suns.
Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving is set to miss a second straight game of the Nets’ second-round series against Milwaukee after teammate James Harden missed three straight contests.
The Philadelphia 76ers have coped with injuries that sidelined Joel Embiid, while Utah has dealt with injuries to Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley.
James noted that eight, possibly nine All-Star players have missed playoff games.
“This is the best time of the year for our league and fans but missing a ton of our fav players,” he tweeted. “It’s insane.”