The athlete, 36, addressed his absence via Twitter the same day, revealing his disappointment about not being able to play.
“Nothing angers and saddens me more than not being available to and for my teammates! I’m hurt inside and out right now,” James wrote. “The road back from recovery begins now. Back soon like I never left.”
The injury occurred during a game against the Atlanta Hawks, in which the Lakers lost 99 to 94. During the first half of the game, James and Solomon Hill collided, and James injured his right ankle. He underwent X-rays and an MRI on the ankle after the game, according to ESPN.
Several teammates accused Hill, 30, of making a bad play and intentionally diving at James. Montrezl Harrel said, “A guy dove for a loose ball, took his leg out from up under him. I really don’t feel like it was one of those loose-ball plays. He had to go through his leg to get the ball, man. He was turned sideways. The ball was behind him.”
Player Dennis Schroder agreed, calling the play “unnecessary.”
Hill addressed the drama after the game. He tweeted, “Would never disrespect the game and take a player out purposely… he knows that. That’s all that matters to me. Praying for a speedy recovery. #riptothementionstho #moredmsthansaweetie.”
Although he won’t be playing, a team spokesperson confirmed that James did travel with the team for a game against the Phoenix Suns on Sunday.
It’s been a difficult season for the Ohio native. In February, a fan dubbed “courtside Karen” was removed from a game against the Atlanta Hawks for heckling him. NBA referees had to pause the game in the fourth quarter to address the woman’s behavior. She was later identified as Juliana Carlos.
At one point during the game, Carlos pulled her face mask down below her chin amid the COVID-19 pandemic. She was also seen holding up two middle fingers as she was removed from the game.
James spoke out about the incident on social media after the game was over. “Courtside Karen was MADD MAD!!” he wrote, adding seven crying-laughing emojis.
Carlos also spoke about her removal, saying in a series of deleted Instagram videos, “So, I’m minding my own business and [my husband, Chris Carlos,] has been a Hawks fan forever. He’s been watching the games for 10 years. Whatever, he has the issue with LeBron. I don’t have an issue with LeBron. I don’t give a f–k about LeBron.”
She continued: “Anyway, I’m minding my own business, drinking my [beverage], having fun. All of the sudden, LeBron says something to my husband, and I see this and I stand up. And I go, ‘Don’t f–king talk to my husband. [LeBron] looks at me and he goes, ‘Sit the f–k down, bitch.’ And I go, ‘Don’t f–king call me a bitch. You sit the f–k down. Get the f–k out of here. Don’t f–king talk to my husband like that.’”
After the game, James told reporters he wasn’t bothered by the uncomfortable moment. “At the end of the day, I’m happy fans are back in the building,” he said. “I miss that interaction. I need that interaction. We, as players, need that interaction.”