Shame on the Los Angeles Lakers.
What they did to Anthony Davis last night was both cruel and unethical.
It’s unthinkable that the team’s medical staff cleared an obviously injured Davis to take the court.
It was the ultimate dog-and-pony show. They paraded Davis — suffering from a strained groin — out for Game 6 of their best-of-seven, first-round series against the Phoenix Suns at Staples Center.
Facing elimination, the Lakers wanted their star out there at all costs. They desperately wanted to force a Game 7. They wanted to prove to the world that Davis was a warrior.
Heck, they wanted to do anything to help LeBron James in his never-ending quest to be considered the G.O.A.T., and better than Michael Jordan.
That’s what this was all about.
It’s a legacy quest gone wild.
The hell with Davis and his health.
Without question, the Lakers put Davis’ career in jeopardy. He could have been seriously injured, damaged long term. Remember, it wasn’t just a strained groin. Davis suffered a knee injury in the playoffs and missed 30 regular-season games with a still-healing Achilles.
It was a recipe for disaster.
And for what? This Lakers team wasn’t good enough to win another championship. Sure, the hope for the Lakers was to go back-to-back.
But this squad had no chance at that. Not only was it going to be impossible to keep both stars healthy for a long playoff run – especially after James and Davis both missed significant time during the regular season with injuries — the supporting cast was both flawed and bad.
Yet and still, it was about James’ legacy, and not Davis’ health. Davis played less than six minutes in the Lakers’ 113-100 loss. Davis was fruitless, scoring no points, corralling no rebounds. But he did lead the game with winces.
“It never really felt good, but it was my competitive nature to want to go out and help the team as much as I could,” Davis told the media after the debacle. “My body didn’t agree.”
Davis was just playing the role of good soldier. The team is supposed to protect the player from putting himself in harm’s way.
The Lakers and James both failed him big time.
If the Lakers were right and James truly cared about his boy, Davis would NOT have played a second in the Lakers’ biggest game of the season.
The risk wasn’t worth the reward.
The idea that Davis could play and further hurt himself was a scary proposition.
Davis, 28, has a history of always falling to the ground and getting hurt. It was his reputation in New Orleans. That’s why on Tuesday TNT NBA analyst Charles Barkley gave Davis a new nickname on national TV. Chuck called him “street clothes.” Barkley was goofing on the idea that Davis is always hurt and is often on the bench unavailable and out of uniform.
Last season, the Lakers caught a break with Davis when stayed healthy in The Bubble in Orlando.
Still, the last thing the Lakers should have wanted to do was force him into action.
Davis is the future face of the Lakers. They shouldn’t have risked him getting seriously hurt and jeopardizing next season, especially with the clock ticking on James’ career.
The last time we saw a star player push themselves to get back on the court with an injury was when the Golden State Warriors let Kevin Durant, coming off a month-long calf injury, play in Game 5 of the 2019 Finals.
Durant went down with a ruptured Achilles injury and was done for the next 15 months.
Most watching on national TV had to wonder if the same doctor who cleared Durant pulled the same malpractice job on Davis. Davis was in pain from the word go. No one needed a doctor’s expertise to know he couldn’t play and be effective.
This was just plain wrong. The Lakers should thank their lucky stars they only lost a series and not Davis long term.