After Orlando Magic guard R.J. Hampton took issue with criticism directed at LeBron James, former Los Angeles Lakers center Shaquille O’Neal indicated that such attacks should be expected while also offering high praise of James.
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The Lakers’ quick exit from the postseason was reason enough for critics of James to attack his falling short in the postseason. That led Hampton as well as Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards to offer a defense of the 18-year veteran.
What the critics of James conveniently left out was the fact that he’s been a key member of four NBA title teams, including last season’s Lakers squad.
In addition, James was named Finals MVP after all four of those championships, a remarkable feat that should largely exempt him from such petty criticism.
Finally, James and the Lakers fell short this season largely because of the injury-related absence of Anthony Davis. He left with a groin injury in Game 4 against the Suns, missed Game 5 and then had to leave Thursday’s Game 6 in the first quarter because of the nagging issue.
O’Neal has had past complaints about where James ranks among Lakers greats, but it’s clear that he has deep respect for what the veteran has already done on the court.