After the Cavaliers’ Eastern Conference Finals Game 5 loss to the Celtics on Wednesday, a reporter asked LeBron James if he was tired at this point of the postseason.
“I had my moments,” James said. “I think everybody at this point is tired or worn down.”
Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue, meanwhile, admitted that he had snuck LeBron a little extra rest in both the second and fourth quarters, saying, “He looked a little tired to me.”
LeBron looks absolutely gassed. pic.twitter.com/okcCafGhdz
— ESPN (@espn) May 24, 2018
Naturally, some of LeBron’s ever-stubborn critics accused the four-time MVP of making excuses, of being weak-willed and of failing to live up to Michael Jordan, who apparently never got tired.
And so it seems worth stating the obvious: If LeBron is truly tired, he has abundant reason to be. In fact, it’s a minor miracle he’s still standing.
LeBron has played 649 minutes this postseason, easily the most of any player on any team. His usage rate (35.7 percent) ranks second to only James Harden, who has played two fewer games and 150 fewer minutes. He has scored about as many points for the Cavs as his three closest teammates combined, while also leading Cleveland in assists, steals and blocks and ranking second in rebounds.
Zoom out further to the whole season, and it becomes even easier to see why LeBron might be gassed. He played in all 82 of his team’s games and tallied 3,026 minutes, easily the most in the league, while ranking fifth in usage rate.
But wait, there’s more. LeBron has not suffered a major injury during his 15-year career, leading him to play at least 60 games each year. As a result, he ranks 20th all-time in NBA minutes, despite being only 33-years-old.
And that figure doesn’t even count the postseason. In making the playoffs in 13 straight seasons and the finals in seven straight (entering this one), LeBron has played 9,776 postseason minutes, or the equivalent of about three extra seasons. He has also participated in three Olympics during that time, for good measure.
So yeah, LeBron looked Wednesday night as if he might be a little tired. How could he possibly not be?