LOS ANGELES – Since Anthony Davis was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, the big man has taken a two-pronged approach to rehabilitating his image: building a reputation as a winner and eliminating his reputation as an injury victim.
Davis succeeded last year, after a season in which he endured physical pain and won his first NBA championship of his career.
In his second season with the Lakers, he is learning that sometimes taking the time to overcome an injury is best for long-term success.
That was the case this week for the seven-time All-Star, as Davis missed the Lakers’ last two games due to a right Achilles tendon injury.
“I think all the other games I wanted to play. It’s just another circumstance that it’s Achilles. If it was a mountain bike or a finger or something, I wouldn’t mind playing,” Davis told reporters Thursday, for the first time since the injury was announced Sunday.
“But I don’t want to play with Achilles. Today was the first day we could train and meet the boys and really try it out.
“I don’t want to play a game where I still feel it and I get injured and go into the playoffs or something like that, or two weeks where it’s something I can’t control and support right now, where you miss two or three games at the beginning or halfway through the season and you have to be ready for the rest of the season.
The Lakers continued their win streak without him, beating Oklahoma City Thunder twice – although in both games they had to take extra time after falling behind.
While the Lakers achieved a record of 20-6 in the six-game series – the second-highest mark in the league, just a half game behind the Utah Jazz – coach Frank Vogel scheduled a rare practice on Thursday to allow Davis to work out and improve the group.
“We try to have a day where we have a light load on our feet while being productive and improving our execution,” Vogel said. The message to the team was, “Good, but not good enough.” Wasn’t it? We’re good enough to win these games, but we’re not playing well enough by our standards. So we worked a little bit [Thursday] to improve that performance and try to keep it fresh.
Davis said he had been experiencing pain in his right calf muscle for “a couple of weeks” and had undergone an ultrasound, which confirmed the diagnosis of a tendon.
“Is still very sick. Pushing back. Even walking, running, jumping, everything, I felt it,” Davis said. “So it’s more about the pain and calming down.”
Friday the Lakers host the Memphis Grizzlies, another young team like the Thunder who are hovering around .500 and can mark their season by knocking out the champions.
Davis said he will see how his body responds to Thursday’s practice and closer to game time will determine his status as a player.
“We did some drills, some non-contact drills that he did. He seemed to be doing well,” Vogel said. “We’ll see how he feels tomorrow before we make a gambling decision.”
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