As well they should......
There may be no tougher group of athletes on the planet than hockey players. They regularly block 90 mph shots without so much as grimacing, they are happy when a high stick causes them to bleed so that their teams will get extra power-play time, they lose teeth and don’t miss a shift, and they play through serious injuries in their quest for winning a Stanley Cup.
So when it comes to toughness, hockey players can’t really be questioned. And if they want to have a little fun at the expense of an NBA player being praised for playing through some leg cramps? Well, they’ve kind of earned that right, too.
That NBA player was LeBron James on Tuesday night. The Heat superstar went down in the fourth quarter with leg cramps. At first, he was able to stay in the game, hitting a one-handed bank shot before nailing a crucial 3-pointer minutes later. It wasn’t exactly a Willis Reed moment, but given that he’s the biggest basketball star on the planet, LeBron was receiving a healthy amount of praise for playing through the pain.
But color some NHL players unimpressed.
Thanks to the miracle of Twitter, we were able to see some of their thoughts as they were happening.
“Lebron James is embarrassing himself and the NBA or actually all athletes,” tweeted Ryan Potulny, a forward in the Washington Capitals system.
“I wonder what kind of face LeBron would make if he took a slapper off the laces?” wondered Winnipeg Jets forward Blake Wheeler.
“What a gutsy performance by lebron #not” wrote Dallas Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski.
“Oh my god guys, Lebron has a cramp, everyone get on their feet, standing O for somehow staying in the game,” wrote Scott Valentine of the Milwaukee Admirals, the AHL affiliate of the Nashville Predators, before sarcastically adding, “If Lebron somehow manages to pull off winning a ring after fighting through a thigh cramp.. it will be a story I tell my children’s children.”
Taylor Hall, the No. 1 pick of the 2010 NHL Draft, didn’t take a shot directly at LeBron, but rather at the whole sport.
“So much flopping going on.. Wondering what these bball players would do if they got a skate in the face haha,” wrote Hall, who himself received a cut on his face that required 30 stitches this season.
NHL players weren’t the only athletes taking shots at LeBron, as Jordan Lewis, an Australian Rules Football player, thought the injury ought to have been serious, considering the way James was acting.
“Anyone heard what Lebron’s injury was??” he tweeted. “I’m tipping Torn hamstring, ACL or dislocated knee cap by the way he was carrying on!!”
It’s all fun and games, and criticism is to be expected for a player who incites so many emotions, but it’s LeBron who can have the last laugh, as his effort helped his team take a commanding 3-1 series lead.