In the final moments of a lopsided Miami Heat victory, Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James walked off the floor at the 10-second mark of the fourth quarter in Game 3 of the NBA Finals Sunday night.
Both teams watched the clock wind down as James made his way to the players’ tunnel. His teammates followed him shortly afterward; leaving the traditional sportsmanship exchange typically seen at the beginning and end of each matchup for Tuesday, perhaps.
“This is not a good look,” ESPN broadcaster Mark Jackson said just before game officials had to ask the Lakers to return to the floor. With a 0.7 difference between the shot-clock and the game-clock, Los Angeles needed to inbound the ball in order to conclude the game.
While the Lakers slowly made their way back to the court to make their final inbound of the night, James was seen walking into the locker room ripping off his arm accessories.
LeBron was asked if walking off the court before the end of Game 3 had to with the fact that the Lakers weren’t going to have enough time to make a comeback or if the decision was purely out of frustration. LeBron replied, “Both.”
However, it wasn’t James’ decision to not congratulate the Heat that’s led to harsh criticism, it’s the fact that LeBron chose not to wait until the game clock expired. Fans expressed their frustration with James.
One tweeter even made an Isiah Thomas reference to when he and the Pistons famously walked off the floor in the final seconds of the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals.
Miami Heat Jimmy Butler’s Epic NBA Finals Performance
With the possibility of trailing the Lakers 3-0 in the Finals hanging in the balance, the Heat bounced back with a strong performance Sunday.
All-Star Jimmy Butler’s 40-point triple-double (13 assists, 11 assists) pushed the Heat’s four-point lead at halftime into a double-digit run in the final frame; picking up the slack for a wounded Heat lineup that played without its All-Star center in Bam Adebayo and its point guard in Goran Dragic.
Bam Adebajo, Goran Dragic Injury Update
Now, with a chance to grab a commanding 3-1 lead, James and the Lakers will look to capitalize on their golden opportunity Tuesday night in Game 4.
“It’s not like the series was over if we won tonight,” James said after the loss. “We know for sure that Miami is never going to quit, no matter if we won tonight and they go into a Game 4 (down) 3-0. I know how resilient that bunch is and how resilient that coaching staff is and their franchise.
“I don’t ever feel like we let our guard down. Also, I don’t feel like we’re concerned. We’re not concerned. We know we can play a lot better.”
Adebayo, who spoke reporters Sunday prior to Game 3, is still considered day-to-day (strained neck). He says he is feeling better but reminded everyone that the decision to play is ultimately out of his hands.
“It’s up to the medical staff,” Adebayo said. “I’m trying to get back as quickly as possible. It’s really day-to-day. When they say I’m ready to play, I’ll be out there.”
As for Dragic, who’s suffering from a torn plantar fascia; no timetable set for his return.
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