LeBron James doesn’t know quite what to expect from the playoff run this year, but he does know one thing.
“It’s probably going to be one of — probably the toughest one,” James said. “It’s the toughest championship run for me personally. From the circumstances of just being in here.”
The run he hopes to make will start Tuesday night with Game 1 of the first round series between the Lakers, the top seed in the Western Conference, and the Portland Trail Blazers, which qualified for the playoffs as the eighth seed by winning a play-in round on Saturday.
Before joining the Lakers for the 2018-19 season, James had been to the playoffs in 13 consecutive seasons with eight consecutive appearances in the NBA Finals. Last season he suffered a groin injury on Christmas that kept him out for five weeks and severely hampered the Lakers’ playoff hopes.
During his media session at the Coronado Springs resort Monday, James balked at the suggestion that it had been a “long time” since he had been to the playoffs.
“It’s not that long,” he said, gravely.
The question then pivoted to whether James took for granted playing in the postseason.
“I don’t take anything for granted,” James said. “I live life, every day I maximize that day. I don’t take anything for granted. Because at the end of the day, I know where I come from, I know what I stand for, so I don’t take anything for granted, especially being in my 17th season. I don’t go into any season saying, ‘OK, playoffs, playoffs, championship, championship.’ I just am all about the process.”
As promised, as soon as he found out the Trail Blazers were the Lakers’ opponent, James began to narrow his focus. He echoed what Lakers coach Frank Vogel said in calling the Trail Blazers an unusual eight-seeded team.
“I don’t think they would have been the eighth seed if they were healthy all year,” James said. “And that’s my mindset. I’m not going in as a 1 seed versus an 8 seed, I’m going in with it’s the Lakers versus Portland. So, I’ve already thrown that out of the window so I won’t be going in with my guard down.”