Social media sympathy & skepticism for LeBron James after NBA Finals defeat
Following Friday’s defeat to the Golden State Warriors – which handed Stephen Curry and Co. a 4-0 sweep and their third title in four years – James revealed he had injured his hand after Game 1 when he punched a blackboard in the locker room in a fit of anger.
"I let the emotions get the best of me and pretty much played the last three games with a broken hand," James said at press conference after Friday's 108-85 loss in Cleveland, where he appeared with his right hand in a cast.
Many NBA fans reacted to the announcement and the Cavs' defeat with sympathy for a player who many felt had “carried the team” during the finals.
You're still the best, @KingJames you carried the team this season & u made it up to the finals. Impressive. 💯— Cristiano (@7ftunder) 9 June 2018
Lebron really played with a serious hand injury and didn’t say a single word all series— Brandon Awadis (@brawadis) 9 June 2018
LeBron James broke his hand! Now maybe the Cavs will finally get him the supporting cast he needs.— Not Bill Walton (@NotBillWalton) 9 June 2018
LeBron deserves the loudest ovation he’s ever had. This team had no business being here. He entered an unprecedented gear during the playoffs just to backpack this group— Shane Young (@YoungNBA) 9 June 2018
However, some said the focus on James’ injury was an unwelcome distraction from the achievements of the Warriors - or even a convenient excuse following a comprehensive series defeat.
Could’ve done without his brace drama. Whether you believe he’s injured or not, he didn’t need it the past few postgame pressers but he sure knows how to over-dramatize everything.— Jay Kramer (@jayshark11) 9 June 2018
NBA TV, LeBron hand injury:— Jason McIntyre (@jasonrmcintyre) 9 June 2018
Grant Hill: "If you didn't mention it before, don't mention it now."
Charles Barkley: "It bothers the hell out of me (LeBron mentioning it now)."
Chris Webber: "I don't like the narrative, it takes away from how great Durant and the Warriors played."
Lebron’s “broken” right hand. 👍🏽 pic.twitter.com/u2npWMdcPk— Chris Ritchie (@iamchrisritchie) 9 June 2018
@bgtennisnation Thoughts on LeBron coming out with a cast and claiming he's had a near "broken hand" since game one? Methinks this is an extremely weak look. You play, you don't bring up injuries after you lose. Period.— Fictional Frontiers (@FFrontiers) June 9, 2018
LMFAOOO All the Lebron fans who made the dumb Injury Excuse jokes about Steph Curry all playoffs long are now spouting injury excuses on the TL 😭😭😭— Bean (@AmeenTheBean) June 9, 2018
You love to see it man. Steph severely outplays Lebron in the series ending game and the tables turn real quick. pic.twitter.com/ZZeOp7FfrE
The debate also raged over the defeat meant for three-time NBA champion James and his potential GOAT status – with some heralding the Cavs star as the greatest of all time despite the finals sweep.
Historic ass year for my MVP! The GOAT 👑🐐👏🏽. Lebron James !! He played EVERY single game this year & gave it his all! 1000% ( blood, sweat & tears ) !! He is Exhausted man, glad he gets to rest & I BETTER NOT see any Lebron slander pic.twitter.com/nXgrkLvwTS— Eunique (@Eunique_ny) 9 June 2018
Lebron James is the GOAT no doubts— Ruben Beasley (@itskingbeasley) 9 June 2018
If only I could fly to Cleveland Ohio right now and give Lebron James an individual trophy..... I WOULD !!! I have nothing but respect for this man! Don’t let this loss take away from who he is! A GOAT 🐐 It’s not over.... he’ll be back.— Janerika Owens 🎬🎥 (@msjaehasclas) 9 June 2018
However, former NBA star Charles Barkley clearly dismissed the idea that the Cavs star could be compared to Chicago Bulls great Michael Jordan.
James, 33, said after the game that he had “no idea” if he had played his last game for the Cavs, with speculation that he could move on when he becomes a free agent next month.
Wherever he moves, the fans and detractors will no doubt follow.