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NBA star LeBron James left the court ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers’ Game 3 Finals loss to the Miami Heat, drawing criticism from fans and sports journalists alike.
James was the Lakers’ leading scorer with 25 points, along with 10 rebounds and eight assists. However, he looked visibly frustrated with a called foul late in the game following 20 team turnovers that put the Lakers down early in the game and then likely cost them a victory in the final stretch.
The future hall-of-famer left the court with 10 seconds before the final buzzer and was off on the side, leaving his team short for their final possession.
LeBron walks off the court leaving team shorthanded on the final possession pic.twitter.com/ndbbD1dS7I
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) October 5, 2020
Regarding James’ actions, ESPN broadcaster Mark Jackson said, “This is not a good look.”
Fans and sports writers also panned James’ actions as self-centered and inappropriate.
**Warning: Strong language
Body language saying he just lied clearly just frustration
— A3 -👁uto (@a3outo) October 5, 2020
Never thought I'd see the night that Jimmy Butler guarded LeBron James AND COMPLETELY OUTPLAYED HIM IN WHAT AMOUNTED TO A DO-OR-DIE GAME FOR THE HEAT DOWN TWO OF ITS BEST PLAYERS.
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) October 5, 2020
LeBron James leaving the arena early already after losing smfh. Trademark move 😂 pic.twitter.com/ArGIyvxIOu
— OnSMASH (@OnSMASH) October 5, 2020
James, who is in his 17th season, addressed his actions in a post-game press conference with reporters. When asked if he left due to frustration or because he thought the game was over, James hesitated and then said, “Uh, both.”
LeBron on if he walked off the court early because he thought the game was over or out of frustration “Both” pic.twitter.com/vH61O4rDCS
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) October 5, 2020
Basketball fans every time LeBron James complains about a foul pic.twitter.com/Ht08jbT2fN
— Backcourt Violation (@backcourtv) October 5, 2020
Heading into Game 3, the Lakers led the series 2-0. The Heat needed all 45 minutes, along with Jimmy Butler’s 40 points, 11 rebounds, and 13 assists to put the game away 115-104 as Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic were out for the second night in a row with injuries, according to Fox News.
Butler shot 14-for-20 from the field and was 12-for-14 at the free-throw line.
The 20 turnovers by the Lakers led to 17 Heat points, which no doubt contributed to the loss.
The Heat also dominated in the paint, outscoring the Lakers 52-34.
Game 4 is set for Tuesday and is set to begin at 9 p.m. ET.
Perhaps contributing to on-court frustrations is the fact that the current NBA championship series is tanking in viewership. Both of the first two games suffered ratings crashes, and Game 2 viewership was off 68 percent, making it the least-watched championship match-up since viewership tracking began.
Game 1 only managed a 4.1 rating and just 7.41 million viewers, “comfortably the lowest-rated and least-watched NBA Finals game on record (dates back to 1988),” noted Sports Media Watch.
Game 2 was worse, however, garnering just a 1.9 rating and 4.5 million viewers, an embarrassing showing on a 68 percent decline year-over-year from 2019.
Until Friday, Game 1 was the lowest-rated in NBA history, since viewership numbers began to be measured.
Scores of fans have abandoned the sport because they believe the addition of so much “Black Lives Matter” messaging has made the game far too political. A Harris poll released Sept. 2 found that 39 percent of fans thought the league had become too political, while another 19 percent now shun the NBA because of its ties to China.
The 2020 season relaunch came with a heavy dose of BLM messaging. Not only do players wear it, but “Black Lives Matter” is painted on courts.
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