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MIAMI – LeBron James' longest string of missed games in his NBA career was five straight, and that was because of a finger injury more than five years ago.
He knows he's fortunate in that regard.
So he cannot really relate to what Kobe Bryant is dealing with now that the Los Angeles Lakers star's season is over with a torn Achilles that required surgery and is expected to keep him sidelined for up to nine months.
But while Bryant's heavy workload down the stretch of this season remains a talking point as to whether that played a role in the injury, James said he's among those who think players should simply never think about getting hurt.
"You can't say, 'OK, I'm not playing this game because I'm afraid of injury' or 'I'm not playing this summer,'" James said Sunday after the Miami Heat beat the Chicago Bulls 105-93. "The opportunity is there. There's going to be a time when you can't play the game at all because Father Time has caught up with you. So you've got to try to do as much as you can while you can."
Bryant played 3,018 minutes this season, his most since 2007-08. Entering Sunday, only Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant, Portland's Damian Lillard and Milwaukee's Monta Ellis logged more court time this season than Bryant, who has played 17 seasons — two more than Durant, Lillard and Ellis combined.
But James hardly ever wants to miss games, either, even at this point in the season with the Heat already wrapping up home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.
"That's not who we are," James said. "We can't play the game worried about injuries. ... If you play your professional life worried about injuries, you're never going to be able to maximize your potential. You can't do that. You've got to just go out and play."
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra also weighed in on the Bryant injury Sunday, saying that seeing it made him sick to his stomach.
James said he was sad for Bryant, and reiterated what he wrote in a tweet after the Lakers' guard got hurt Friday night: he has no doubt the NBA's No. 4 all-time scorer will one day return.
"I know how much work he puts into the game," James said.