LeBron James isn’t ready to give up any minutes on the court, despite entering his 16th NBA season as the Lakers open against the Trail Blazers on Thursday.
James told reporters he doesn’t want to lessen his minutes and has told his coaches that he’s strong enough to play full games.
James’ comments come just a day after coach Luke Walton explained he wanted to limit the four-time MVP’s minutes to keep him “fresh” throughout his four-year contract, which he signed during the offseason.
“I’m always fresh,” James said (per ESPN). “All my coaches want to figure out a way of how to lessen my minutes, I keep telling them I’m strong enough to play most minutes but they won’t listen to me, so, it’s OK. I like it.”
Walton said he hasn’t seen any signs of James aging, even though he will turn 34 in December.
“I told him … that his legs seem to be getting younger as training camp goes on,” Walton said. “It normally works the other way. But he’s jumping higher, he’s moving quicker the more we get out there and play. So it’s like I said: There’s one game tonight. We’re obviously excited to be playing regular-season games now, but he looks very good.”
James led the league in minutes last season, averaging 36.9 per game with the Cavaliers. But he’s not planning on slowing down as his goal is still to win a championship with Los Angeles.
“It’s just my goal. It’s always been my goal … maybe the last 10 or 11 years where I felt like it’s championships,” James said. “I want to win championships and putting my mind into that and thinking about it. I think when you have championship habits, you have championship thoughts, and things come into fruition.
“Obviously there’s only one champion at the end of the road, and you can’t dictate wins and losses, things of that nature, but you can approach every day like a champion. And if you do that, you put yourself in a position to be successful. Either individually or as a team, or whatever the case is.”
The Lakers will open their season in Portland Thursday night with tip-off scheduled for 10:30 p.m. ET.