LeBron James may have played his final game as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night in Game 4 of the 2018 NBA Finals. The Golden State Warriors thrashed the Cavs, 108-85, completing a sweep in the NBA Finals. James sat for the final four minutes or so of the game, but he still wasn’t his usual dominant self, going for 23 points on 7-for-13 shooting with eight assists and seven rebounds.
Don’t get it twisted: James was easily Cleveland’s best player on the night, but it wasn’t the type of all-consuming game we expect out of the best player in the world. But still, to some, James did not give it his best effort in a must-win game, which is drawing scorn.
Chief among these critics are the NBA TV crew of Charles Barkley, Chris Webber, and Grant Hill. Most notably, Barkley made it a point to go off on James for his performance.
“I was so disappointed in his passiveness, and it drained all the energy out of the rest of the Cavaliers,” Barkley said. “He came out passing the ball. I wanted to see somebody fight to the finish — number one, congratulations to the Golden State Warriors — but that left me mad more than anything. For him to come out and play like that with the game on the line and just be so passive, and you could see it drained the energy out of the rest of the players. Cause they fed off his body language. Just disappointed personally.”
Beyond Barkley, Webber wasn’t a fan of James’ body language and that he didn’t take the most shots on the Cavs — Rodney Hood came off the bench and took one more than him — while Hill said James’ passiveness hurt his case for being the best basketball player of all time.
On that note, let’s listen to Barkley discuss James vs. Michael Jordan. As you can guess, there isn’t exactly a lot of nuance in his take.
“Any media person I see for the rest of my life, you try to tell me LeBron James is a good as Michael Jordan, I’m just gonna slap the hell out of them right on the spot, no questions asked,” Barkley said. “The next person who walks up to me and says LeBron James — who is amazing — is as good as Michael Jordan, or competes like Michael Jordan, I’m just gonna slap the hell out of you right on the spot. And I’m gonna take my chances with the judicial system.”
One game does not a player’s legacy make, but if this does end up being the final game James plays in a Cavs jersey — whether it be for a few years or ever — it’s safe to say that it left a bad taste in some people’s mouths.