INDEPENDENCE, OHIO - Despite an ankle sprain keeping him sidelined for the majority of the preseason, LeBron James played 41 minutes in the Cleveland Cavaliers' season-opening victory over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night.
James will be out on the court again when the Cavs take on the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night, although the 32-year-old megastar admittedly won't be 100 percent.
So why is even James playing if he's not full strength -- with it only being the second game of the season and the start of a three games in five nights stretch?
Because at this point in James' career, being full strength simply might not be an option.
“I’m ready to go," James said. "I don’t remember the last time I was 100 percent. I’m 15 years in -- there’s no 100 percent."
You wouldn't have known it watching the 4-time MVP on Tuesday, when he scored 29 points, grabbed 16 rebounds and dished out 9 assists in Cleveland's 102-99 victory over Kyrie Irving and the Celtics. And while James may no longer be capable of playing at full strength, he's been fairly fortunate when it's come to injuries throughout his career.
But that doesn't mean his preseason ankle injury didn't have consequences.
After spending much of the offseason participating in intense workouts -- many of which were documented on social media -- James entered training camp in arguably the best shape of his career. That, however, was negated when he was forced to spend the better part of the past month standing on the sideline rather than playing.
"[It] will take me a couple weeks," James said of getting his wind back. "As long as I'm on the court and I'm playing and not having these setbacks, it'll take me a couple weeks. But I'll be fine."
For James, "fine" may no longer be 100 percent, but it's typically been good enough. And if improvements in his conditioning lead to an improved version of the James we saw in the Cavs' opener, what percentage he's playing at may not even matter.
"I just want to get back where I should be," James said.
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