The groin injury LeBron James received as his most unwanted Christmas gift might not be particularly serious, but it’s serious enough to potentially torpedo the Los Angeles Lakers’ season.
Harsh though that prognosis seems, being without James for even a handful of games at this pivotal period of the campaign seems likely to have major postseason repercussions, to the point that missing the playoffs altogether could suddenly become a realistic outcome.
The reasons are twofold. One is because the young and largely inexperienced Lakers rely so heavily upon their veteran leader, and while they are capable of winning games without him, surrendering late leads through a lack of guile and savvy suddenly becomes far likelier.
The other is all to do with the packed nature of the Western Conference, where any brief lull in form can send a team tumbling drastically down the standings.
James’ health and availability is still day-to-day, though it seems he will be out for the next week or two. There was no muscle tear and the complaint shouldn’t slow him down too much when he does return. Over the course of a season, it will be a fairly small slice of absence. But who knows where the Lakers will be by the time he gets back?