There’s no love lost between Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James and Atlanta Hawks forward Solomon Hill, who slid into the legs of the four-time MVP earlier this season, resulting in an extended absence from the court.
James missed the most games of his career during the condensed season after suffering a high-ankle sprain during the play, sitting out 26 of the Lakers’ final 30 regular-season games. James went out of his way to take a shot at Hill following the Lakers’ final regular-season game.
“It’s been hard to tackle it. I was playing some of the best basketball of my career before the injury,” James said. “It was not a self-inflicted wound or something I could control. It wasn’t like I wasn’t putting in the work and then my body failed me. I literally had a grown man diving at my leg for a loose ball.
“I had to pay the price of that and take my time to get my ankle to where it is today where I’m able to be back on the floor. It cost me seven weeks of the season that I still think back on and hate it. I’m still not comfortable with it.”
Hill heard what James had to say and fired off a tweet of Chris Tucker from the movie Friday, basically saying get out of here.
Solomon Hill Defended Himself After Play
The play by Hill on James had a large effect on the NBA season. At the time, James was an MVP candidate and even a frontrunner at some sportsbooks. The Lakers were already dealing with the loss of Anthony Davis but were 28-14, on pace to finish in the top half of the Western Conference standings with James setting the tone.
However, with both James and Davis out, the Lakers stumbled, finishing 42-30 and as the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference.
Hill was called out by various Lakers players after the game but defended himself on social media.
“Would never disrespect the game and take a player out purposely,” Hill said. “He knows that. That’s all that matters to me. Praying for a speedy recovery. #riptothementionstho #moredmsthansaweetie.”
Lakers Not Worried About Seeding, Tougher Route
The Lakers would have liked to avoid the play-in tournament, but couldn’t overcome a late swoon, losing eight of ten games. Five straight wins to close out the regular season helped, however, they still needed help on the final day to make the jump to the No. 6 seed.
The Lakers are embracing a matchup with the streaking surging Golden State Warriors in the play-in on Wednesday. The Warriors won six straight and eight of nine close out the season.
“It will be the hardest challenge any team has ever had in NBA history,” Lakers reserve Jared Dudley said. “We’re up for it. We’re the defending champs. They’ve got to worry about us. We’re getting healthy at the right time, and no one wants to see a healthy Laker team.”
James said he tweaked his ankle in the Lakers’ regular-season finale against the Pelicans, but would be good to go for the play-in. The Lakers are a 4.5-point favorite for the matchup. The total is set at 219.5 points, per Odds Shark.