Anthony Davis, playing with tremendous pain in his right foot, approached and then around Denver’s Nikola Jokic in the first quarter on Sunday. When he made contact and hit, he landed oddly and immediately took a look at the ground.
He made a face. Then he shot and made the free throw. He then hobbled back onto the pitch to play defense.
A few moments later, Davis was sitting on the bench looking at his right foot, his shoe completely off, while waiting for his next shift on the court. He returned and played nearly 35 minutes as the Lakers came up short against Denver, 129-118.
In just his second game back since injuring that foot before the All-Star break, Davis has endured significant discomfort to try to take the Lakers to last place in the NBA’s play-in tournament.
“At this point, I know what we’re playing for,” Davis said. “If I have to go through that pain – hopefully it’s not the last four games, hopefully it’s more – then so be it. I know that, myself and my team know that I left it on the floor. Just like I did in the playoffs last year. Give me a chance – and give our team a chance.
“I’m not going to sit down and stop if I feel like I can at least get out of there. When I’m 60%, 70% or whatever, I think my 70% is better than a lot of guys’ 100%. I want to help the team.”
In the Lakers’ loss to Denver on Sunday, Davis had 28 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and three blocks. On his return Friday after missing 18 games, he had 23 points remaining with 12 rebounds and six assists.
After two straight years of significant injury-related absences online and trolled by TV analysts, Davis fired back at his critics in a one-on-one interview with The Times on Sunday.
“This is what I learned about injuries: Last year when I wasn’t playing, people were like, ‘AD is giving up his team. It’s the playoffs. AD must play. He has to play.” And when I went out to play and got injured again, they said, ‘Who was his coach? Who let him play?’
“So what the [expletive] do you want me to do….? When I play it’s a problem. It’s a problem when I’m not playing. At the end of the day I have to do what is best for me and what makes my body feel. And we’re going from there. I don’t worry about who’s saying what or who’s thinking that about me because none of them stepped on the floor and played. And those who played should understand.
“These aren’t minor ticky-tack injuries.”
In his third season with the Lakers, Davis only played 39 games. Last season, after a brief offseason in which he was more focused on recovery than form, Davis played 36 games before injuring himself again in the playoffs.
The injury-prone label was imposed on Davis prior to his arrival in Los Angeles, and while last season proved that, this season’s troubles can be attributed to bad luck more than anything else.
Davis missed more than a month with a knee injury after LeBron James accidentally bumped Minnesota’s Jaden McDaniels into the side of Davis’ leg. After a 10-game return, Davis injured his foot after stepping on Utah center Rudy Gobert’s foot and missed another month and a half.
The random nature of the injuries helped ensure he wasn’t too discouraged.
“The real basketball boys know there was nothing I could have done in those situations,” Davis said. “What? Getting out of the way? I’m sticking with that attitude firstly because my wife makes me do it, and secondly because I know it really wasn’t my fault. How can I be down or upset or care about what the People say it could have been anyone I could wear shoes that went to my knees.
“There isn’t a single player in the world who could step on someone’s foot from the air without rolling their ankle. The shoe doesn’t matter. If you step on someone’s foot, you roll your ankle.”
After Davis began the season with a goal of being constantly available to the Lakers after working hard to be in better physical condition to avoid injury problems, Davis left the Lakers’ home arena late Sunday afternoon frustrated with the results .
His team finished 11th. His foot hurt. And everything felt out of his control.
“I busted my ass,” Davis said. “And I had two uncontrollable injuries.”
https://www.latimes.com/sports/lakers/story/2022-04-04/lakers-anthony-davis-fires-back-at-critics-about-injuries Anthony Davis on critics: “These are not sensitive injuries”