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LeBron James planning to play Miami Heat’s final eight games

Apr 3, 2014, 9:45 AM EDT

Milwaukee Bucks v Miami Heat Getty Images

Since LeBron James entered the NBA in 2003-04, only Andre Miller has played more regular-season games.

Of all LeBron’s achievements, this might the most underrated. The ability to stay healthy is huge, especially for good players. If top  players like LeBron miss games, the dropoff to their replacements is huge and extremely costly to their teams.

So, LeBron’s endurance has been pivotal.

But LeBron also missed his team’s final regular-season game each of the past six years, sitting out more April games half those years. His teams have typically been positioned to rest players, and he has indulged.

That could change this season.

Shandel Richardson of the Sun Sentinel:

James says he plans on playing the remaining eight games as long as he stays healthy. After making that statement, he promptly “knocked on wood” at his locker with hopes of avoiding injury.

“I have no choice,” James said. “I don’t plan on sitting out any of these (eight) games unless something happens. I’m going to be in the lineup.”

“It’s never been part of my DNA,” said James, who has missed just three games this season. “If I feel I can get something, I’ve got to be out there for my teammates. It’s my obligation to be out there for them. I’m dealing with a few things but for me to sit out, I have to be dealing with a lot more.”

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The Heat (52-22) are locked in a battle with the Pacers (53-23) for the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed, and that very well could go down to the season’s final day.

Dwyane Wade has been hobbled, putting more onus on LeBron to carry Miami. Resting Wade definitely takes priority over resting LeBron.

Plus, the more LeBron plays, the better chance he has of stealing MVP from Kevin Durant.

Durant leads the competition because he’s had the best season and voters have LeBron fatigue, but the race is still too close to call. If LeBron plays well these last couple weeks and Durant slips, it’s at least possible LeBron could overtake the Thunder star. LeBron definitely can’t win if he sits.

There’s a lot more at stake for LeBron than usual at this point in the season, and that’s why he’s taking this unusual step.

  1. aboogy123456 - Apr 3, 2014 at 10:03 AM

    I’m very happy to see this but don’t pretend like it’s in your DNA, Lebron, when every year you’ve been sitting out. I also think that players have an obligation to the fans. They pay to come see these games and not all fans can afford to go to playoff games. I like when guys come to play hard every night and don’t just focus on the championship, so it’s good to see this from lebron.

    • kclanton80 - Apr 3, 2014 at 12:49 PM

      Lebron rarely ever misses a game due to injury and doesn’t sit to rest during the regular season. Seems like its in his dna to me! Players resting at the end of the year is usually a coaches decision and it makes no sense to make guys play the last few games when chasing a ring. Especially if your seeding is already set. Fans should realize this and make sure they get get a ticket to an earlier game if the want to ensure they see the stars play.

      • aboogy123456 - Apr 3, 2014 at 1:54 PM

        Kobe never sits at the end of a year. He’s too competitive, and the fans love that.

      • antistratfordian - Apr 3, 2014 at 2:10 PM

        @aboogy123456

        Well he shouldn’t with the amount of games he used to miss, he had a lot of making up to do.

      • deavn - Apr 3, 2014 at 4:28 PM

        @aboogy Well, he’s not even in the playoffs this year.

  2. miamatt - Apr 3, 2014 at 10:18 AM

    With no. 1 in the East there for the taking, it is worth it. As well as the Heat’s reserves have played of late when thrust into big minute roles, there is no reason not to give Miami a chance to win every night.

    If the Heat do lock it up at any point, though, this goes out the window.

  3. thenew013 - Apr 3, 2014 at 10:32 AM

    I do give LeBron credit for his endurance. He does take a lot of hits and even though he exaggerates nearly all of them he always gets back up and he is rarely if ever injured for a long period of time.

    • fanofthegame79 - Apr 3, 2014 at 11:06 AM

      You need to go watch some old film of Charles Barkley. That dude was the best at looking like he was just punched by Mike Tyson anytime someone touched him. Taking nothing away from Barkley because he was outstanding (and under-rated, IMO).

  4. kb2408 - Apr 3, 2014 at 10:53 AM

    The MVP race is over. KD has had a better season and OKC has been better than the Heat in a tougher conference. What is there to debate? It’s not LBJ ” fatigue”, it’s more like LBJ supporters trying to “force” him into another MVP when it’s clear he’s not the MVP.

    • fanofthegame79 - Apr 3, 2014 at 11:07 AM

      I’ll give you that – Durant had a better season. But I bet LeBron wins it back next season (similar to the year after Rose won the MVP).

      • kb2408 - Apr 3, 2014 at 11:33 AM

        What makes you think that? Is KD retiring after this season? I see him only getting better. To quote Stevin A…”KD is coming”!! If he’s not already the best player in the world he soon will be. His overall numbers are just as good as LeBron’s and his scoring ability is unmatched. The only thing separating them at this point is a ring. Once (if) KD gets one, the NBA is his.

      • fanofthegame79 - Apr 3, 2014 at 2:04 PM

        We’ll have to agree to disagree…that and wait until next season. Everyone said the same thing about Rose and we saw what happened there. Not saying that Durant will get injured, but there’s always that possibility. And if LeBron comes back with a better year next year (similar to last season), he’ll win the MVP again. Durant’s numbers are boosted from him playing without Westbrook for a good portion of this season. Let’s not forget what LeBron did as the one and only in Cleveland.

      • money2long - Apr 4, 2014 at 12:41 PM

        Fan of the game, there’s also the chance lebron gets injured. So if you’re going against his argument by sayin kd can get hurt, u must do the same for lbj. They are in the same boat. So your point holds true to both. Why not rebut and focus on a basketball point.

    • antistratfordian - Apr 3, 2014 at 2:15 PM

      I’m not so sure about that. LeBron is probably going to end up with higher seed and is putting up an even more rare statistical season (first player in history to put up his statistical line – Durant, on the other hand, is just joining another player with his).

      James leads his team in scoring, assists and rebounds while also being the Heat’s best defender. Durant, meanwhile, only leads his team in scoring.

      So it’s very easy to justify giving it to LeBron again this year. Durant will probably Malone it though.

      • money2long - Apr 4, 2014 at 12:42 PM

        I think wade gave lebron the keys to the team. Westbrook has yet to do that with kd. So relax with the team stats. You’re oblivious as usual.

      • antistratfordian - Apr 4, 2014 at 2:06 PM

        -____-

        Durant was there before Westbrook. Russell never had the keys.

      • money2long - Apr 4, 2014 at 10:57 PM

        Hahahaha that dumb face.
        And ur rebut was very stupid.
        Kd was just a baby first of all.
        And it doesn’t matter who showed up first.
        The fact of the matter is Westbrook still wants to be just as important NOW. And it has been the knock on Westbrook for a lonnnng time. Many seasons. Ur building ur response on the sole fact durant was there first ?that doesn’t address anything. silly goose

      • antistratfordian - Apr 5, 2014 at 4:57 PM

        It’s Durant’s team. It always has been Durant’s team. Durant holds the keys. And Durant actually encourages Westbrook to play the way he does because he thinks it’s what best for the Thunder. If he lets Westbrook steal his shine, that’s his own fault.

        That is a completely different dynamic than Wade-LeBron on the Heat.

      • money2long - Apr 6, 2014 at 4:46 PM

        Lol at u liking and then disliking my comment. Ur a tool

      • money2long - Apr 6, 2014 at 4:47 PM

        Liking ur own comment and disliking mine *
        Doesn’t make ur point make any sense. Bwahaha

    • passoutblogger - Apr 3, 2014 at 2:48 PM

      As a Cleveland fan I can tell you that regardless of the numbers no single player improves a team like LeBron does. Give it to Rose or Durant if you like but LeBron has a bigger impact which I think makes him the Most Valuable Player.

      • money2long - Apr 4, 2014 at 12:47 PM

        When shaq was gone ?*

    • money2long - Apr 4, 2014 at 12:36 PM

      i wonder if anti is thinking the same thing @kb2408…..u know , that durant has the mvp locked up. i mean, why else would lebron play in the final games of the season? hehe. maybe to make up ground and win over some voters? oh well, who knows what goes on in that abyss called anti’s head.

  5. fanofthegame79 - Apr 3, 2014 at 11:09 AM

    I think Durant had a lot to prove this year since his team was bounced big time by the Grizzlies after Westbrook went out with the injury. Bravo to him for upping his game – I’m a LeBron fan through and through, but I’m more than happy to give credit where credit is due.

    • antistratfordian - Apr 3, 2014 at 2:48 PM

      Yes, kudos to Durant. But I don’t think you’re giving LeBron the credit that he is due. You may not have noticed – perhaps you’ve started to take him for granted – but LeBron’s season is unprecedented. What he’s done this year has never been done before. And LeBron’s nightly responsibilities for Miami exceed Durant’s on the Thunder. The Heat rely on LeBron for nearly everything.

      Durant obviously gets a lot of attention because he scores 5 more points a game (on 3 more shots), but LeBron consistently does enough to cover that gap.

      This is probably going to be a case like 1997 when Malone won MVP over Michael Jordan. But – like what Jordan did in 1997 and LeBron did in 2011 – James will issue a reminder.

      • money2long - Apr 4, 2014 at 12:49 PM

        MVP means someone has played better than the rest. It’s not a case of not giving someone else due credit. It’s an acknowledgement that someone was better

      • adamsjohn714 - Apr 5, 2014 at 7:34 AM

        @money2long….. Thumbs up for meaningless platitudes!!

  6. jzone954 - Apr 3, 2014 at 5:25 PM

    Kb—-you do an amazing job at showing your hate and displeasure for Lebron James.

  7. ProBasketballPundit - Apr 3, 2014 at 5:50 PM

    LeBron has a special regenerative ability. Every time you see him take a hit and lay on the ground like he’s dead, that’s because he nearly is. But when he gets in a fetal position and cries for a couple minutes he’s actually able to heal his wounds on the spot. That’s why it always seems like he’s exaggerating.

    • money2long - Apr 4, 2014 at 12:52 PM

      This is a nice segue to the league’s flopping epidemic.

  8. xfactor123 - Apr 5, 2014 at 6:55 AM

    “Dwyane Wade has been hobbled” should be the opening of every story about the Heat. This is as clichéd as Tom Berenger’s character running out a bunt to first base with his bad knees from all those years of being a catcher.

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