LeBron James taking heat for leaving blowout Lakers loss with five minutes remaining
The reigning NBA champions were battered by the Suns.
LeBron James has faced the wrath of fans after walking out with more than five minutes to go of his Lakers side's game with the Phoenix Suns.
The Lakers were demolished 115-85 by the Suns in game 5 of their best-of-seven series in the NBA play-offs, and now trail 3-2 in the series and are on the verge of crashing out. Key player Anthony Davis sat out the game with a groin injury.
Having been 66-36 down at the half-time, things never got better for the Lakers, and with 5:42 left in the game and little chance of him being called back onto the court, James had clearly seen enough and walked off down the tunnel towards the locker room.
LEBRON HEADS TO THE LOCKER ROOM WITH 5 MINUTES LEFT pic.twitter.com/WpGUfDDDAr
— ︎︎︎︎☀️ (@CamJohnSun) June 2, 2021
Safe to say that this didn't go down very well with fans and James, who has previously walked out of games early, was blasted online for his behaviour.
TV host labelled last season's Finals MVP as "the Drama King" whilst one fan declared James is "hands down the worst role model in today's sports for kids."
Here we go again. The Drama King leaves the bench with 5:40 left in this blowout and walks quickly up the tunnel to the locker room. Guess he doesn't want to sit through the rest of this embarrassment like his teammates have to. Guess he doesn't want to be associated w this shame
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) June 2, 2021
This man is hands down the worst role model in today’s sports for kids. Flops all over the place, constantly whines about every call that doesn’t go his way and walks out with 6 minutes still to go in the game. The guys a fucking child and anyone who compares him to MJ is a joke. https://t.co/PSepzndCiM
— BullyGingerz (@BullyGingerz) June 2, 2021
James is considered by many to be the only person who can rival Michael Jordan as the GOAT of basketball, but many saw this sort of behaviour as the reason that he can never be the rival to Jordan's GOAT crown.
lebron slick lame for walkin off wit 5 mins left... n that is what differentiates him n jordan
— lizzo (@tr3s__) June 2, 2021
This is the goat? https://t.co/fhpXeWFVSS
— Michael🕶 (@Michael_Senese) June 2, 2021
This yall king 🤣✌🏾 https://t.co/HxN8CqBgtN
— Cee 😎 (@guapo_cee) June 2, 2021
MJ. would. NEVER.
And that’s the biggest difference
— Eric Yates (@the_ericyates) June 2, 2021
The Lakers stormed to their seventh NBA title last year, with James picking up a fourth NBA Finals MVP after they beat Miami Heat 4-2 in the championship series.
But they are now on the precipice of going out in the first round of the play-offs this season. They must now win both of the final two games in the series against the Suns if they want to maintain their title defence. After their crushing by the Suns, James said:
"A lot to cover and see what we can do better in game six, but they pretty much just kicked our ass, there's nothing else really to say.
"It's literally win or go home at this point. You shoot all the bullets you got and throw the gun too.
"I'm looking forward to the environment. Obviously the Laker faithful will give us a lot of energy. I look forward to the moment and the challenge, and see what brings out the best of me."
Based on showings like this, the prospect of simply taking the series to a final game seems a long way off, let alone winning the series and progressing to the next round.
If Davis can get back and play decent minutes, the Lakers have a chance. If not, even LeBron James at his best would struggle to get his side over the line.