Sports | June 4, 2021 10:38 am

LeBron James a Sore Loser for Not Shaking Hands With Suns Players After Playoff Loss?

James, who had 29 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in the 113-100 loss, exited quickly

LeBron James
LeBron James against the Phoenix Suns in the second half of Game 6.
Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty

It’s not surprising, but it appears as if The King does not much care for being dethroned.

Following the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers falling to the Phoenix Suns in a somewhat lopsided Game 6 and being eliminated from the playoffs, LeBron James left the floor without shaking hands or acknowledging any of the players on the opposing team.

Predictably, he got ripped for it.

Though James, who had never lost in the first round of the playoffs prior to last night, didn’t stick around to congratulate the Suns, Lakers players Marc Gasol, Markieff Morris, Anthony Davis, Alex Caruso and assistant coach Jason Kidd were among some of the members of LA’s team that did.

While it is easy to pile on James, who had 29 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in the 113-100 loss, for not showing good sportsmanship, perhaps it really isn’t that big of a deal.

After all, maybe James, who has declined to say if he’s been vaccinated for COVID-19, was just trying to avoid another violation of NBA protocol by getting too close to other players and needlessly interacting with them. Even if that wasn’t the case (and it probably wasn’t), does it really matter if James shook hands with the Phoenix players or not considering the handshake is potentially on the way out in general?

Afterward, James chose to focus on what’s going to happen for the Lakers next year, not what happened — or didn’t happen — after the game.

“The one thing that bothers me more than anything is we never really got an opportunity to see our full team at full strength,” James, who missed 26 games himself because of a high right ankle sprain and was playing without the help of Davis for much of the year, said. “Either because of injury or COVID or something going on with our ballclub this year, we could never fully get into a rhythm. And never really kind of see the full potential of what we could be capable of. It doesn’t matter to me as far as not making it out of the first round. What matters to me is getting this team back healthy. Me not being able to be at my full strength throughout this series, that’s my main focus.”

Although he didn’t show them any love on the court, James did throw Phoenix a bone with one of his post-game remarks. “May the better man win, and the Suns were the better man throughout this year and for this series,” he said.