LeBron James hasn’t had the best luck when it’s come to spectators lately. Last week, when the Los Angeles Lakers played the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, a member of the Cavaliers’ front office got under James’ skin by celebrating a miss of his too loudly. He didn’t say anything — he just got excited, and he lived to regret it.
Then, on Monday, when the Lakers went head-to-head with the Atlanta Hawks, there was a fan that had a lot to say — so much so that she and her husband got kicked out of their courtside seats. And the best part? James had a little something to say too.
Refs stop the game after a Hawks fan heckles LeBron pic.twitter.com/NsoFjyel97— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 2, 2021
What exactly was said there depends on who you ask. The woman, identified by Dave McMenamin of ESPN as Juliana Carlos, and her husband, Chris Carlos — a longtime Hawks courtside presence and admitted James hater — along with two other fans were ejected. On her Instagram, she admitted that she yelled at James that she was going to “f*ck him up” after he had an exchange with her husband. She also refused to put her mask on when asked, and was somehow surprised this all led to her being shown the door.
James’ telling was a little different, but while we may never know all of the context for the back and forth, there’s one thing that we do know: James loved every second of it.
“At the end of the day, I’m happy fans are back in the building,” James said. “I missed that interaction. I need that interaction. We as players need that interaction. I don’t think it was warranted to be kicked out. There was a back and forth between two grown men and we said our piece. He said his piece, I said my piece, and then someone else jumped into it and said their piece. I don’t think they should have been kicked out.”
That said, he understands why they were.
“They might have had a couple drinks,” James said. “And they might have kept it going and the game wouldn’t have been about the game no more, so I think the referees did what they had to do. It’s fine.”
“My guy tonight, he ... you know, I don’t want to say he went overboard, but he went a little bit out of bounds,” James added. “Too close for comfort for me. And I said my piece, and we could have moved on, but I think it was so close to the officials that I think the officials heard it as well what he had said and it kind of got blown out of proportion.
“It’s just like sometimes on the floor when two guys get into a scuffle, or get into a little jostling and the refs try to break it up really fast and it looks like it’s bigger than it really is. That’s what it pretty much was tonight. But the difference is we’re on the court and we’re not having any alcoholic beverages. They might have had some alcoholic beverages on the side, so that could have made them feel a little tougher than they actually are.”
After the game, James and his teammates had a little fun at the expense of the fan, adopting the nickname “Courtside Karen.”
Big dawg a fool lol— Montrezl Harrell (@MONSTATREZZ) February 2, 2021
It wasn’t all fun and games, though: the fan that James got into it with took her mask down to yell at James. James didn’t think much of it because of how far she was from him and his teammates, but head coach Frank Vogel is hoping that fans don’t feel comfortable doing that going forward; especially fans that are sitting courtside.
“If that happened then that certainly exposed something with regard to having fans in those seats,” Vogel said. “You obviously can’t have fans taking their masks down and shouting at our players with the virus out there during these times. I really don’t know what happened on that play... but I’m sure the league will take a good look at it.”
Anthony Davis also said he wasn’t sure exactly what happened, but agreed with Vogel that someone taking their mask down to heckle isn’t acceptable.
“With COVID going on you obviously can’t have that. We want to make sure we always be safe,” Davis said.“It was a crazy little thing but hey, shit happens.”
Davis reiterated something James said, though: That he was happy there was fans to interact with again.
“One little incident is not going to change the fact that we love having fans at the game,” Davis said. “Whether we’re home or away, it just brings back the game that we love, that joy from the fans ... It’s always fun, whether it’s 500 people or 1,500 whatever it is, it’s always enjoyable to play in front of a crowd.”
Unfortunately, fans still aren’t allowed at Staples Center due to the active threat of the coronavirus and it’s unclear when they will be again. So, for now, James will have to take what he can get on the road.
“I love our fans,” James said. “Laker Nation and everybody else at the games for Laker Nation. It feels better. Fans in the stands, it’s just better for everybody. Especially on the last day of a 14-day road trip.”