On Tuesday, LeBron James returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers' lineup after an eight-game absence and scored 33 points in a loss to the Phoenix Suns.
James, who turned 30 on Dec. 30, was sidelined with back and knee injuries. Now in his 12th season, he says he's learned some perspective on longevity from his own recent ailments and the struggles of 36-year-old Lakers All-Star Kobe Bryant.
"You prepare every day like it's your last," James said at the Cavaliers shootaround prior to the team's game against the Lakers on Thursday night at Staples Center. "You've got to be smart about it. Your body will let you know when it needs time."
Bryant has sat out six games this season trying to manage his stamina by resting.
How did James feel, returning to action after taking a break?
"Like I was out for two weeks," said James. "I got a lot of treatment yesterday, I'm going to get some more today and get ready to play tonight."
James was peppered with questions similar to ones Bryant has fielded of late, "Can you play on back-to-back nights?" and "How do you find time to rest?"
Bryant and James each came straight to the NBA from high school. James could be looking five or six years into the future when he sees Bryant.
"He's played a lot of basketball. The competitor he is, he wants to be out there. We play a lot of basketball over the years, he has a few more years than me, for sure, and a lot more miles on his body," said James. "He's a very good friend. You never want to see someone have troubles, both physically or just in the game in general.
The Cavaliers have struggled in the standings, falling to sixth in the Eastern Conference with a 19-20 record after losing their last six games. Bryant and the Lakers have had an even harder time in the competitive Western Conference, currently in 14th place at 12-27.
Cavs Coach David Blatt is optimistic his team will adjust to new acquisitions Timofey Mozgov, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert while getting healthy, with progressively better play over the next two weeks, the two weeks after that and so on.
James left the Miami Heat over the summer, despite the Lakers' attempts to recruit him to Los Angeles.
Did Bryant call James to try to lure him to Los Angeles?
"No," James said.
"I'm a huge Kobe fan. I love the way he approaches the game. It's great having him in the league. Last year it wasn't as great, just not having him out there. He's a big part of what we all do," said James. Bryant missed most of the 2013-14 season with knee and Achilles' tendon injuries.
"I've always loved playing against him. Going against the best is something I've always kind of relished."