The Phoenix Suns eliminated the LA Lakers from the Playoffs with a commanding 113-100 win in Game 6. Everyone will want to talk about the Lakers, AD, and LeBron and what this means for the future and LeBron’s legacy. Before that happens, it’s time to give credit where credit is due. Devin Booker has arrived.
We already know what the narrative will be. LeBron will talk about the short turnaround between the bubble and the 20/21 season – he prepared the media landscape for this outcome by being salty about the season starting in December. Out of four bubble conference finalists, three lost in the First Round – Heat, Celtics, and Lakers. Fatigue and COVID definitely impacted the season, and it was apparent when looking on the injury list. The biggest name on that list is definitely Anthony Davis.
Davis was never known for his durability. The entire New Orleans fanbase nodded their head when Barkley joked about calling him Anthony “Street Clothes” Davis. If you’re just a casual NBA fan, you know Davis has a long list of games missed due to lingering issues. Fortunately, he never had a major injury, but Davis always seems to be dealing with something. Last night, Barkley got serious about it and got real with AD.
“They [the Lakers] are going to have to sit him down this summer and ask ‘Yo man, is something going on with your training?’ For him to always be hurt, he’s doing something wrong. For this stage of LeBron’s career, Anthony Davis is going to have to be the best player on that team if they’re ever gonna be good again.”Charles Barkley, Inside the NBA
A part of it is being a seven-footer who moves and plays like a guard, and Davis obviously has the genetics and body type that isn’t optimal for a lot of contact. But the consensus within the sports performance industry is that soft tissue injuries can be significantly prevented. Davis hurt his groin while playing on a bad knee – this is where the training staff has to step in and say “you’re not playing.” But how likely is it that the Lakers are going to enforce discipline on a Klutch client? If we are in the player empowerment era, Klutch Sports are the pioneers.
When asked about playing AD tonight, Frank Vogel said AD “is a warrior,” and they were hoping “in game adrenaline” would help him out. Those are words of a man who had no say in the decision. Usually, we’d blame the organization – coach, GM, Lakers performance staff – for letting a hurt player on the court. But in 2021, I think we need to shift our focus to the player himself and his representatives. With power and independence comes responsibility.
Barkley is right. The Lakers have every right to sit AD and his team down and ask for an explanation and a plan for the future. The problem is, that’s not likely to happen.