CHICAGO — Anthony Davis said he “heard something pop” when the Minnesota Timberwolves‘ Jaden McDaniels crashed into his left knee on Friday. And so when the Los Angeles Lakers star collapsed in the tunnel on the way to the locker room, it wasn’t just because of pain. It was mental anguish, too.
“I just reached a point where it was tough to walk,” Davis said Sunday, speaking to reporters for the first time since suffering a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee. “I had to take a break. … I did hear something pop — and the first thing I thought of was [a major injury]. Which, I was emotional, I was just like everywhere. But like I said, thank God that it wasn’t that.”
Davis underwent an MRI on Saturday in Chicago that revealed the sprain. He will spend the next four weeks rehabbing his knee before being re-evaluated, according to the team.
Despite the setback, Davis said he has a good outlook on things. Last year he missed 36 of the Lakers’ 72 regular-season games because of an Achilles injury and a calf strain. He sees this situation differently.
“Mentally I’m fine. I’m in a good space,” Davis said. “Last year was a more ‘me’ thing. This year was like a freakish play. So knowing that nothing I really could have done to avoid it, I guess, keeps me in a good place. The locker room keeps me in a good place. People around me outside of basketball keep me in a good place. Great conversation with my wife about it; she’s the one who keeps me in a good place, for real.”
The Lakers, 16-14 coming into Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bulls and in the No. 6 spot in the Western Conference, could really use Davis, of course.
However, the eight-time All-Star believes that — all things considered — L.A. is doing OK.
“I feel like when we’re healthy we’re a pretty good team,” Davis said. “We started playing well, start getting a rhythm with each other and then all the COVID stuff happened and then more injuries. So it’s not where we want to be, but we’re not in a terrible spot.
“We’re still in a good spot, for a team who feel like they can, could have done more, or win more games, games we should have won, and we’re still in a good spot. So hopefully we can stay afloat with all the stuff going on around the team and being able to still pursue our goal, which is to win a championship.”
L.A. played the Bulls minus six players — Dwight Howard, Talen Horton-Tucker, Austin Reaves, Avery Bradley, Kent Bazemore and Malik Monk — who are in the health and safety protocols. Coach Frank Vogel tested into the protocols, too, leading to assistant coach David Fizdale taking the reins.
However, the was a hint of a silver lining, with Trevor Ariza making his season debut after undergoing ankle surgery in the preseason. And Isaiah Thomas, fresh off a team-high 19 points in Minnesota, earned a spot in the starting lineup as his NBA comeback trail continued.
Davis, for one, is bringing a positive mindset to the spot the Lakers find themselves in.
“It’s going to take a team to beat Chicago tonight, and moving forward, everyone is going to have to be on the same page,” Davis said. “I think we got a lot of guys who can do that, a lot of leadership who can put us in the right position on the floor and on the bench from the coaching side to make sure we’re successful.”