Montrezl Harrell says fans taunted him over dead grandmother after Lakers' Game 6 loss

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For better or worse, few nights are as lively on NBA Twitter as when the Los Angeles Lakers are eliminated from the NBA playoffs.

In the case of Montrezl Harrell, it was worse. Much worse.

The Lakers big man spoke with reporters on Friday after his team's Game 6 loss, which gave the Phoenix Suns a 4-2 series win in the first round. Even though Harrell was on the court for less than eight minutes, Los Angeles was outscored by 16 points when he was playing.

The resulting online schadenfreude soon crossed the line, as Harrell said some people were sending him cruel messages about his grandmother, who died in July 2020. From SB Nation's Harrison Faigen:

"I find every day challenging, brother. I still find it challenging every day. Especially when there's dummies out there, heartless people who get on social media and just say the things that they say. I still get people, even to last night had people have the nerve to get on social media and say 'F my grandmother.' Which they wouldn't dare say to my face in any circumstance. So I still deal with a lot of it to this day, brother, but it's OK. 

"Every day is tough, but it's OK, I still prevail, man. I have two beautiful kids, I have a great family around me man, and I continue to grow as a man. So whatever anybody feels that they want to do to try and tear me down, you can't, man. My grandmother watches over me every day, and I'm walking with a different type of blessing every day I wake up. I'm still struggling to this day man. It's still tough for me to talk about to this day. You see my voice and how the pitch of how I talk changes. But it's OK man. I will continue to keep walking in faith with God and continue to put my best foot forward, brother. It's all I can do."

Harrell has been open in the past about how much the death of his grandmother affected him, and left the NBA bubble last year when she died. To use that to taunt Harrell is obviously not OK under any circumstances, but especially not over a basketball game. 

Montrezl Harrell's playoff nightmare

Those comments were the final insult of a brutal stretch for Harrell, who saw his stock drop as much as any Laker during the playoffs. 

Signed by the Lakers in free agency last offseason, Harrell was the reigning Sixth Man of the Year and was expected to be a key part of the team's rotation. That was somewhat true during the regular season, in which Harrell averaged 13.5 points and 6.2 rebounds per game while shooting 62.2% from the field.

Harrell became a man forgotten against the Phoenix Suns, though, as the Lakers opted to go with a big man tandem of Andre Drummond and Marc Gasol for much of the series after a Game 1 loss. Harrell didn't play a single minute in the Lakers' two wins in the series, and only saw meaningful minutes again in Game 6 after Anthony Davis' groin re-injury and Drummond's benching turned the team's frontcourt upside down.

Harrell, who has a $9.7 million player option for next season, openly conceded that his future with the Lakers is up in the air.

That underperformance and marginalization on the NBA's biggest team created a predictable torrent of criticism and mockery of Harrell on social media, but that apparently escalated into outright abuse in some corners. Chalk it up as another of some fans treating athletes like characters on a television screen rather than human beings.