LeBron James stood frozen like a statue.
Earlier in the fourth quarter, LeBron missed a couple jumpers and asked out of Game 1 of the NBA Finals. He appeared to be cramping, no doubt due to the heat in San Antonio’s arena. I wasn’t sure he’d return.
But he re-entered three minutes later and drove for a layup. After making the shot – which put Miami within two – he didn’t get back on defense. He didn’t even get past the baseline. He just couldn’t move.
The Heat intentionally fouled to stop the action, and LeBron returned to the bench with 3:59 left. He remained there for a while, but he headed to the locker room before the game even ended.
Once LeBron left the game for good, the Spurs went on a 16-3 run on their way to a 110-95 win.
The images of LeBron’s tough night are absolutely brutal:
LeBron’s injury was a disappointing and unfortunate end to what had been an excellent game. Without LeBron, the Heat had no chance.
And he knows that.
LeBron is a gamer. He wasn’t going to let his team down if he could avoid it.
Michael Jordan couldn’t have played through that. Kobe Bryant couldn’t have played through that.
This is no time to question LeBron’s toughness – not that anything will stop those looking to criticize him.