Lakers center JaVale McGee says he’s been unfairly judged for having asthma

first_img How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersMcGee is in the midst of a possible career renaissance with the Lakers: He’s averaged 16.3 points, 7 rebounds and 3.3 blocked shots through four starts. A career 7.5-point and 4.8-rebound player, McGee has been mostly relegated to a backup role for the past seven seasons, during which he’s averaged less than 20 minutes per game every season – and less than 12 each of the last four seasons.As one of few traditional big men on the Lakers’ roster, he’s positioned to change his image this year. And part of that, he believes, has been his asthma diagnosis, which he thinks started to adversely affect his reputation when he was with the Denver Nuggets. Denver, of course, is famous for its one-mile altitude – which McGee said any player would have difficulty adjusting to (McGee previously played in Washington, D.C. which is close to sea level).So far this season, he’s averaged nearly 24 minutes for the Lakers.“People say, ‘Oh, he only can play 20 minutes because he has asthma,’” he said. “No. there’s a lot of people with asthma in the league. I feel like somebody stamped that excuse on me like, ‘Cool, we can play him low minutes because he has asthma.’”McGee was fired up about a line of questioning regarding how Coach Luke Walton appeared to be deploying him in short stints. Though McGee played 25 minutes, Walton subbed him in and out several times, even twice in a quarter, during the course of the 131-113 rout of the Suns. PHOENIX — Fresh off his highest-scoring performance in more than five years, JaVale McGee felt it was time to clear the air about something.His asthma.It’s well-known that the Lakers’ 7-foot center has asthma, and he takes a puff from an inhaler before every game. But the 30-year-old would like people to stop referencing the condition in relation to his minutes.“Stop bringing that up like I’m out here wheezing and having asthma attacks,” he said in a controlled but impassioned postgame declaration. “I’ve never had an asthma attack in my life. I feel like that’s definitely lowered my value as a basketball player.”center_img Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed Related Articles Whether the length of the stints was the key to unlocking a big performance from McGee, the result was a good one: McGee’s 20 points were the fifth-highest point total of his career. He kept up with the breakneck pace of the Lakers’ transition game, including the opening basket when he dashed up the court quickly after winning the tip-off, beating DeAndre Ayton to the hoop to finish off a lob from Lonzo Ball.“He’s just so active, man,” LeBron James said. “I think it starts with his defense. His ability to get blocked shots and get out and run and then, his ability to run and beat the other bigs down the floor, we’re always looking for him.”McGee had a fun night, also making his first 3-pointer of the season – something he works on in practice, even if the coaching staff is skeptical of deploying it in actual games. His career and reputation revitalized by a two-year stint with the Golden State Warriors, McGee thinks he could be in line for not just being on a winning team, but also being an integral piece of it.“I definitely feel like it should be a career year,” he said. “I’ve been working hard, especially the past three years. I feel like this is something I deserve.” Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs last_img read more