Wednesday night, as the Los Angeles Lakers were putting the finishing touches on their outright blowout of the Utah Jazz, LeBron James took his shoes off on the bench, signed them and handed them to a couple young Lakers fans. Then, with his shoes off, he joined in the bench’s raucous applause for Kyle Kuzma, who blocked two consecutive shots for maybe the first and only time of his career.
The horror. The horror.
Just about everyone who saw any of this thought it was a touching moment for the kids, and a lot of fun for the Lakers. Just about everyone except for the guys calling the game for Utah, that is:
Listen to how salty the Jazz announcers sound pic.twitter.com/u0FVkIZf3x— Kevin ♂️ (@klew24) December 5, 2019
James then responded to Craig Bolerjack and Matt Harpring on Thursday morning via Instagram:
LeBron responds to Jazz broadcasters calling him "disrespectful" for celebrating after giving his shoes to a fan before the game was over. pic.twitter.com/00mpmX2QfE— Lakers Outsiders (@LakersOutsiders) December 5, 2019
Credit to James for taking the high road on this one, as not many would have. Bolerjack and Harpring’s complaints weren’t just lame (and trust me, they were insanely lame), but they also featured some code that just about anyone could see through. Phrases like “this isn’t a playground” or saying that James and the Lakers should respect the Jazz’s house can very easily linked to some cultural differences and, given the issues the Jazz dealt with just last season, they have to be more careful with the language their broadcasters use.
But also, let’s return to something really important here: Just how incredibly whiny this all was on the parts of those on the call.
Again, James went out of his way to give a couple young fans his shoes in a moment they likely will never forget and probably ranks up there with the coolest things they’ve been a part of to this point in their lives. Having a problem with this is, well, just shitty behavior.
Then, if Bolerjack and Harpring have such a problem with James and the Lakers “clowning” their team on the sideline, maybe be a little harder on said team for their piss-poor performance in that game, play that led to the opportunity for James to watch from the sidelines as the fourth quarter ended. If you have such a problem with taunting, maybe work harder to avoid situations where you deserve to be taunted. Or at the very least, if you want a star to keep their shoes on, keep the game close enough that they don’t feel comfortable giving them to children with time still left to play. Seems simple enough.
At the end of the day, though, all that matters is that the Lakers destroyed Bolerjack and Harpring’s team, and James made a couple fans incredibly happy. Everything outside of that is just noise. But given what racial complications are in the Utah fanbase’s very recent past, it’s a shame to see it pop up again like it did Wednesday night in what should have been a cool all-around moment.
For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can yell at the author of this article on Twitter @AnthonyIrwinLA.