‘Squid Game’ creator Hwang Dong-hyuk just dunked on LeBron James: ‘This can’t be real’

A split image of a man with a beard and a man with a face mask under his chin.
Lakers superstar LeBron James, left, and “Squid Game” creator Hwang Dong-hyuk have exchanged notes on the Netflix series.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times; Noh Juhan / Netflix)

Warning: This story contains spoilers for the Season 1 finale of “Squid Game.”

“Squid Game” creator Hwang Dong-hyuk formed a slam dunk of a response to LeBron James after the Lakers superstar criticized the season finale of the hit Netflix series earlier this month.

In an interview published Tuesday by the Guardian, Hwang defended the climactic conclusion of the South Korean survival drama after James was caught on camera expressing his dissatisfaction with the final cliffhanger.

For the two people reading this post who a) haven’t seen Netflix’s most successful show of all time and b) don’t care about spoilers: The first season of “Squid Game” ends with champion Seong Gi-hun (Lee Jung-jae) seemingly choosing to seek revenge on the evil masterminds behind the titular, deadly competition instead of reuniting with his young daughter.


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“I didn’t like the ending, though,” James told teammate Anthony Davis in a viral video captured during a news conference by Lakers reporter Kyle Goon.

“I know they [are setting up] Season 2 but like, get on the f— flight and see your daughter, bro. Like, what are you doing? You have 5 billion won, bro, and you gonna leave your daughter? Bro, what the f—? ... You won the game!”

When asked by the Guardian for his thoughts on the “Space Jam 2” star’s critique, Hwang laughed, stood by his vision and challenged James to come up with his own version of “Squid Game” that would meet his standards.

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“Have you seen ‘Space Jam 2’?” he said. “LeBron James is cool and can say what he wants. I respect that. I’m very thankful he watched the whole series. But I wouldn’t change my ending.

“That’s my ending. If he has his own ending that would satisfy him, maybe he could make his own sequel. I’ll check it out and maybe send him a message saying, ‘I liked your whole show, except the ending.’”



Within hours, the baller quote from Hwang began making the rounds on social media and found its way back to James — who promptly shared the “Squid Game” director‘s statement along with 10 rolling-on-the-floor-laughing emojis.

“This can’t be real right??!!” the basketball phenom tweeted. “I hope not.”

Netflix beat analyst expectations on net income and subscriber adds Tuesday, receiving a boost from the popularity of the Korean series “Squid Game.”

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Hwang also candidly discussed the potential for a sophomore season of “Squid Game,” which has surpassed other popular titles such as “Lupin” and “Bridgerton” as the streaming giant’s most-watched program ever — according to the company’s self-reported metrics.

“Of course there is talk,” Hwang told the Guardian. “That’s inevitable because it’s been such a success. I am considering it. I have a very high-level picture in my mind, but I’m not going to work on it straight away. There’s a film I really want to make. I’m thinking about which to do first. I’m going to talk to Netflix.”