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LeBron James walks off court before final buzzer in Game 6, doesn’t shake hands with Grizzlies

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LeBron James was challenged quite a bit in the press by the Memphis Grizzlies. Dillon Brooks said before the postseason that he hoped to face the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round and knock James out “right away.” After the Grizzlies won Game 2, Brooks called James old and explained that he doesn’t “respect anyone until they come and give me 40.”

James may not have done so individually in this series, but his team did so as a group on Friday. When the final buzzer rang in Game 6, the Lakers led the Grizzlies 125-85… a margin of exactly 40 points. Yet James didn’t stick around to see the ending. With 14.1 seconds left on the clock and the outcome decided, James left the floor and exited through the tunnel alone.

Typically, players on both teams will shake hands and reflect on the series after one team officially knocks out the other. This is an unofficial tradition and is not always honored. The reasons can range from the mundane to longstanding grudges. The Detroit Pistons infamously refused to shake hands with the Chicago Bulls in 1991 after Michael Jordan finally defeated them following several heartbreaking losses.

It isn’t clear why exactly James left the floor early. He has largely decided to avoid trading barbs with the Grizzlies in the press during the series, saying “this is not my first rodeo.” Now James will have three days to rest before his Lakers face either the Sacramento Kings or Golden State Warriors in the second round of the postseason.

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