- LeBron James played the last three games of the NBA Finals with a severe right hand injury.
- James reportedly sustained the injury when he punched a blackboard following the Cavs Game 1 meltdown.
- James hid the injury from plain sight and was wearing a cast when he was out of the public eye.
LeBron James played through the NBA Finals with a serious right hand injury that he sustained after Game 1, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.
Windhorst reported on ESPN that after the Cavs’ brutal Game 1 meltdown, James punched a blackboard out of frustration.
According to Windhorst, James received two MRIs for the injury and wore a soft cast when he was out of view of the media and anyone else.
During his postgame press conference on Friday following the Golden State Warriors’ sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers, James admitted to the injury and donned his cast.
After Game 4, James said the injury was “self-inflicted” and occurred because he was emotional after the Cavs lost the close game.
“I pretty much played the last two games with a broken hand. That’s what it is,” James said.
James is, of course, right-handed. After dropping a monstrous 51 points in Game 1 of the Finals, James’ approach did appear different in Games 2, 3, and 4. James still shot 49% from the field over the last three games, but just 27% on three-point attempts with fewer than four attempts per game. For the entire postseason, James shot 34% on over five attempts per game. In Game 3, he also notably missed a few open layups.
Windhorst said that James did not want the information getting out for fear of the Warriors targeting him on defence or guarding him differently.
The health of James’ hand likely would not have had much affect on the outcome of the series, a four-game sweep by the Warriors. But it’s worth wondering how limited James was, and how much fight it took out of him, particularly after he nearly willed the Cavs to an improbable Game 1 win.
James also played through several other injuries. His left eye remained bloodshot after getting poked in the eye in Game 1. In Game 3, he re-aggravated an ankle injury he sustained during the Eastern Conference Finals.
Watch Windhorst’s report below:
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