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Hawks say they’re investigating incident between LeBron James and ‘Courtside Karen’

The Hawks also explained why they’re letting fans sit courtside at games during a pandemic.

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Last night, we broke down everything you needed to know about the war of words between LeBron James and a woman he dubbed “Courtside Karen” as the Lakers beat the Atlanta Hawks to finish out their seven-game road trip. To make a long story short, the woman and her husband were kicked out of their courtside seats — and the arena — after an exchange with James during the game, and both sides told their piece afterwards as videos surfaced of the incident.

Today, we have an update. According to Chris Kirschner and Jovan Buha of The Athletic, the Hawks are investigating what happened and if any further action needs to be taken:

The Hawks are investigating an incident during which four fans allegedly yelled obscenities at LeBron James while sitting courtside in Atlanta during Monday night’s game against the Lakers, CEO Steve Koonin told The Athletic.


“I do not know how long this will take,” Koonin said. “It’s the first time I’ve experienced something like this. There’s a protocol. The NBA has a code of conduct (placard) on every chair in the building. This is an NBA matter that obviously we’re involved in. There are NBA security people at every game at every arena in the country.”

After the tête-à-tête, much of the online discourse about it centered on a simple question: How are courtside fans allowed at a game during a pandemic where they can — as “Courtside Karen” showed — easily take their mask down to yell at players?

Well, the good news is that according to that story, “all of the fans who are sitting courtside are 30 feet from play, receive a rapid COVID-19 test and must test negative before being allowed inside the building.” CDC data says those tests might only be 80% accurate for asymptomatic people, but still, it’s better than no precautions whatsoever. Players and team staffers are, of course, tested multiple times every day, so it is at the very least unlikely that this will lead to an outbreak of anything other than online stupidity.

Which is good, because according to The Athletic, it certainly doesn’t sound like the Hawks are reviewing anything about their attendance practices beyond this specific incident:

Atlanta is one of 10 teams that currently allows fans inside its arena, with 10 percent capacity being the limit inside State Farm Arena (roughly 1,700 fans). After Monday’s incident, Koonin said the team’s stance on allowing fans to sit courtside will not be impacted.

“Nothing is changing,” Koonin said. “I’m not sure I understand your (correlation) between what happened tonight and fans sitting courtside. I sat in the stands, 3 feet further back, so I’m not sure I understand the (correlation). I don’t think that one thing adds up.

“Again, everyone has been tested. There are rigorous NBA protocols that we followed. If there’s some kind of fan behavioral issue and courtside seats, I do not see the connection.”

With players and the league wanting fans in the building for energy and economic reasons, the Hawks’ policy of course isn’t going to change, but man is it some intellectually insulting mental gymnastics to imply that fans being allowed to sit courtside during a pandemic has nothing to do with fans not following pandemic protocols courtside.

Anyway, we’ll see what happens here, but at this point given everything that was said during the incident and the aftermath, it would frankly be a shock if both Courtside Karen and DaddyCarlos aren’t banned for life from Hawks games. And frankly — and I don’t know if this is a hot take — if you tell an NBA player you’re going to “fuck him up,” you probably shouldn’t ever be allowed to sit courtside ever again.

We’ll see if the Hawks agree.

Update: They will reportedly not be banned.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.

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