LeBron James claims he played final three games with broken hand.
As the Golden State Warriors celebrated their second straight NBA Championship, and third title in four years, late on Friday night, Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James made a startling revelation during the post game press conference.
“I pretty much played the last three games with a broken hand,” James said wearing a soft cast on his right hand. James, as first reported by USA Today, injured his hand punching a whiteboard after Cleveland’s Game 1 overtime loss in Oakland.
After Cavaliers’ guard J.R. Smith infamously forgot the score at the end of regulation, Golden State outscored Cleveland 17-7 in the extra frame to pull out the win. After the loss, LeBron took out his anger on a whiteboard in the visitor’s locker room leaving James with a deep bone contusion on his shooting hand.
“I had emotions on how the game was taken away from us; I had emotions of (how) you just don’t get an opportunity like this on the road versus Golden State to be able to get a Game 1,” James said. “I let the emotions get the best of me.”
The timing of the revelation led to speculation that the injury was being used as an excuse for the team getting swept. However, according to a person with knowledge of the situation, James was briefed on the USA Today reports shortly before coming to the podium and would not have worn the cast if his injury had not already been reported.
His Cavaliers teammates and coaches all knew what had happened. The injury might explain that while James was still dominant in the final three games of the series, he hadn’t come close to the monster performance in Game 1, where he scored 51 points along with eight rebounds and eight assists.
It was the fifth-best scoring night in Finals history and the first 50-point game in the Finals since Michael Jordan scored 55 against Phoenix in 1993. It was also the only 50-game to come in a loss.
It’s hard to tell how much the injury affected James. He averaged 28 points and 11 rebounds in the final three games of the series and also had a ridiculous alley-oop pass to himself in the first quarter of Game 3. But that wasn’t enough to overcome the Game 1 gaffe and the powerful Warriors.
— NBA (@NBA) June 7, 2018
With the series and season now over, the next question isn’t if James’ injury affected the series, but whether LeBron’s second run in Cleveland is over.