With about five minutes left in the 115-85 defeat that put LA one loss away from first-round elimination, James made his way to the locker room.
Bayless, a Fox Sports personality, took notice.
“Here we go again. The Drama King leaves the bench with 5:40 left in this blowout and walks quickly up the tunnel to the locker room,” Bayless tweeted. “Guess he doesn’t want to sit through the rest of this embarrassment like his teammates have to. Guess he doesn’t want to be associated w this shame.”
Asked what he was thinking as the rout played out while he and injured teammate Anthony Davis were in the locker room, James replied, per ESPN, “What was going through my mind was, ‘They’re kicking our ass.’”
Lakers coach Frank Vogel explained the early departure of James, who missed much of the regular season with an ankle injury.
“LeBron had to start his treatment,” Vogel said, per Heavy. “It doesn’t do any good for him to sit over there without getting worked on and beginning the treatment as soon as possible to help him get ready for Game 6.”
With the Lakers now down 3 games to 2, James is on the brink of losing in the first round for the first time after 14 series victories, according to ESPN.