Lakers' LeBron James addresses being shut down, explains offseason motivation

LeBron James wanted to keep playing.

The Lakers announced last weekend they were shutting down the 34-year-old star, who has been dealing with a groin injury, for the rest of the season. James discussed the decision during a recent interview with The Athletic.

“Of course, I would love to still play, but I’ve always listened to the ones I trust, no matter if I always agreed with them or not,” James said. “They’re looking out for my best interest, and that’s the way it is.”

Los Angeles began the season with a 20-14 record before James strained his groin Dec. 25. He missed the next 17 games and the team never recovered.

The Lakers were officially eliminated from playoff contention in late March, which will snap James’ streak of eight consecutive finals appearances. He last missed the postseason in 2004-05.

James told The Athletic he will try to benefit from the extra time he’ll have to train.   

“I like being uncomfortable in the offseason,” James said. “I like being counted out. It motivates me.

“I’ve had basically the same offseason training regimen the last eight years. I knew how long I wanted to rest for the season on a short timeline. I’m figuring out now how to get as much as I can out of two months of extra time for training. It requires a totally different strategy. We’re looking at it in an entirely new way.”

James left the Cavaliers and signed a four-year, $153.3 million contract with the Lakers in July. He’ll finish his first season in Los Angeles averaging 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.3 assists in 55 appearances.

The Lakers will enter their matchup Tuesday against the Thunder with a 35-42 record. They have five regular-season games remaining.