After Brandon Ingram went down in the first quarter of Wednesday night’s eventual win against the San Antonio Spurs with what would eventually be ruled a sprained left ankle and had to leave the game, the Los Angeles Lakers just kind of fell into a rut. This malaise was aided by Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart’s early foul trouble, and it looked like yet another frustrating loss to those damn Spurs.
Then LeBron James happened. Hart, who was at one point so frustrated after his fourth foul that he walked right by the bench and into the walkway to let off steam, couldn’t help but show wonder at the yet another incredible performance.
“You can just see it. You just know, and I’ve said it before: He’s the best player to ever put on a jersey,” Hart told reporters after the win. “You know, when it’s happening, it’s amazing, so people should really stop criticizing, shut up and witness greatness while he’s still doing it.”
One can’t help but feel like the “stop criticizing, shut up and witness greatness” was a bit of a response to all the speculation from the prior couple days after Kevin Durant said he can understand why some players might not want to play with James.
It might not have been specifically a response to that, but the idea that none of the Lakers either saw headlines or heard speculation on the topic is pretty nonsensical, so this quote felt like a potential response to all the noise.
What we aren’t going to do is get into any kind of silly debate about where James belongs on the all-time list while he very obviously has quite a bit left in the tank to add to his already-astonishing NBA resumé.
Comparison remains the thief of joy and, as Hart says, you only get to watch a talent like James a few times over the course of your life, so why do anything that might take away from the enjoyment of him or any other legitimately great athlete in the moment? As per usual of late, Hart’s aim on this quote was on the money.