Brian Babineau/Getty Images
As the Los Angeles Lakers’ season continues to spiral further out of control, LeBron James has found support from one of his former teammates.
“I feel for him. I really do. I feel for him,” Irving said. “I’m very empathetic towards it because how much he wanted to play during that time when he messed up his groin.”
The Boston Celtics star also called criticisms of James “a little unfair because of how much time he missed.”
Irving can empathize with his former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate because he knows what it’s like to have a season derailed by injury.
Last season, Irving missed the Celtics’ final 34 games, including the playoffs, after undergoing two surgical procedures on his knee and patella.
The Celtics were able to reach Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, losing to James’ Cavs, without their All-Star point guard.
James had the Lakers rolling with a 20-14 record before injuring his groin on Christmas Day against the Golden State Warriors. The team has lost 21 of its last 31 games, including a 6-11 mark in 17 games without the four-time NBA MVP.
Los Angeles is currently 6.5 games behind the San Antonio Spurs for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with 17 games remaining.
With the Lakers falling out of playoff contention, Chris B. Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported Thursday that James will play fewer minutes per game and is likely to sit out the second night of back-to-backs.
James’ teams have made the playoffs in 14 straight seasons, and he’s only missed the postseason twice in his NBA career.