Anthony Edwards and R.J. Hampton Hit Back at the Critics of LeBron James After Loss to Suns

Published 06/06/2021, 6:30 AM EDT
Jun 3, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) reacts in the second half against the Phoenix Suns during game six in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


The Los Angeles Lakers’ hopes of bagging their second straight title went down in the drain after they were kicked out of the playoffs in the first round itself. However, it wasn’t the franchise that was on the receiving end of a plethora of criticism, but their star player, LeBron James. Fans and critics even took this opportunity to question his place in the GOAT discussion.

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However, there are some people who stood up for the legend and are still appreciating the unique greatness he brings to the table. They include Minnesota Timberwolves star rookie Anthony Edwards and Orlando Magic’s guard R.J. Hampton.

Why LeBron James is being bashed?

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The 36-year-old superstar had an injury-riddled season this time. After not getting enough time off after their championship win last season, players not being well-rested was a universal concern. Especially for those who stayed in the Orlando Bubble longer.

This only prevented the Lakers from defending their title better. After struggling to even get to the playoffs, they were eliminated by the hands of the second-seeded Phoenix Suns. LeBron James and Co. received a big blow when Anthony Davis sat out of their games.

However, the blame is still landing all on James for not stepping up. In fact, James’ entire legacy has come under scrutiny because of being sent back after the first round itself. That too, for the first time in his career. Is that even fair? To blame one exceptional player for the fall of an entire team? Anthony Edwards and R.J. Hampton don’t seem to think so.

Jun 3, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) battles for the ball with Phoenix Suns forward Torrey Craig (12) and forward Mikal Bridges (25) in the first half during game six in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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Edwards and Hampton jump to defend LeBron

Edwards and Hampton showcased their admiration for the legend by standing up for him. Anthony posted a story on his Instagram that stated, “I’ve never seen so many people be so happy to see an athlete fail more than LeBron.

“His whole career he’s been hated on constantly and slandered to no end to the point where when he retires nobody would have appreciated his greatness. I will be glad I will be one who did.”

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R.J. Hampton didn’t sit back looking at this hatred either and compared this situation to other NBA legends. He posted on Twitter, “I don’t get the LeBron slander… man is in his 18th season. Nobody talked down on Kobe, Shaq, Dirk, Tim Duncan when they were in their 18th season.”

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Hampton has a point. But unfortunately for someone who has such a big impact on the league will always draw some haters as well. It only means that Bron has been doing something right all along. Whether he is able to fulfill his dream of getting as many championship trophies as Michael Jordan is a question for another day. But even if he doesn’t, it won’t ever change how much he inspires fans and players alike.

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Yashima Bhatia

1482 articles

Yashima Bhatia is an NBA writer for EssentiallySports who specialises in providing nuanced predictions and updates for matches. She has a Bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communication. Yashima's love for playing the game came up at a young age, when the excitement of the games coupled with the intensity of the Playoffs had her hooked.

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