Much has been made about LeBron James’ early exit from Game 1 of the NBA Finals due to cramps.
With 7:31 left in the fourth quarter, the star left the court due to cramps that were related to the AT&T Center’s loss of air conditioning.
He returned to the game a few minutes later and scored a pair of points on a strong drive to the bucket, but left the game for good after that.
James finished the night with a game-high 25 points to go along with six rebounds, three assists and three steals, but was helpless as his team was outscored 16-3 the rest of the way in a 110-95 loss.
And naturally, the four-time MVP and two-time NBA champion has been the subject of criticism, the likes of which former Phoenix Sun and current TNT NBA analyst Grant Hill says is unfair.
“Unfortunately LeBron is so polarizing,” he told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Friday. “It’s like everyone is…the guy can’t do anything. He can’t do anything wrong or do anything without people judging and being critical.
“It’s just unfortunate. I think part of it’s the day, the world that we’re in with social media and there’s so many opportunities for people to give opinions and have thoughts, some ideas about what somebody is doing.”
Hill, who played 18 seasons in the NBA — including five with the Suns — added that he thinks some of the criticism may still stem from his move from Cleveland to Miami. Saying it looks like James is the most scrutinized athletes in the world, he noted that when it comes to James’ cramps, there’s no reason to blame the player because though he never cramped up himself, he knows what kind of pain that brings.
So to compare James’ inability to play through a cramp to that of someone like Michael Jordan playing with the flu, as he did in 1997, Hill says isn’t right.
“Obviously because we have examples of some of these great pros who sucked it up or gutted it up and went out there and played,” he said, pointing to Jordan. “It’s like he’s constantly being compared to this.”
Hill then went on to talk about how dealt with similar angst during his playing days.
“As someone who’s been hurt and someone who had injuries and someone who probably during that process was criticized for not sucking it up and playing,” he said, before pointing out how he did play through injuries in Detroit and it only ended up making things worse, causing him to struggle with various ailments and miss a significant amount of time. “I always tend to give people the benefit of the doubt when you’re dealing with health.
“He’s a great player, he’s a competitor. He wants nothing more than to win a championship, and he got hurt.”