EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – LeBron James has other aspirations this season besides winning a fifth NBA championship and becoming the league’s all-time leading scorer. The Los Angeles Lakers star also expressed interest in how many pre-season games he’s been involved in:
“More than I played last year,” James said after practice on Friday.
Lakers coach Darvin Ham said he and his team will determine “in the coming days” whether James plays more than the three exhibitions he played in last season. That decision begins with the Lakers’ preseason opener against the Sacramento Kings on Monday at Crypto.com Arena (10:30 a.m. ET, NBA TV).
“We don’t want to go crazy,” Ham said. “But we also want it to be enough where we can establish a rhythm, so he can be in game mode with a good rhythm for the regular season.”
After missing 26 games combined last season due to various ailments, James said he made some changes to his diet this offseason. He occasionally played pickleball at his home in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. He also made unspecified changes to his diet.
“Being black and understanding how heart rhythms and blood pressure work in my family, living a healthy life is very important,” James said. “It’s not just for me. But it’s about showing that to children and people around. If that can translate to play, cool. But it’s more a question of life.
Nonetheless, James viewed his availability in his 20th NBA season as the most important variable in determining whether the Lakers could recover from last season’s missed playoffs.
James hardly shared as much concern over how he will adapt to Ham’s fast-paced system, saying: “I adapt to any manager.” James seemed equally optimistic about how he’ll refine chemistry with Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Austin Reaves and Kendrick Nunn, who represented the Lakers’ starting lineup in week one of training camp.
“I’m just a ball player. You put me down, I can make anything happen,” James said. “I don’t really have a position.”
The Lakers have kept an open mind on whether that means James will operate more this season as a scorer or a playmaker.
“It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been playing this game. The day you think you can stop learning is the day you start going backwards,” James said. “improve and learn from a new coach, new teammates and life in general. Every day is a learning experience for me. I love it.”
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Mark Medina is a senior writer/analyst for NBA.com. You can email him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.
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