Despite flirting with a triple-double once again in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 106-99 victory over the Atlanta Hawks, the biggest talking point having to do with LeBron James following the game had to do with a courtside fan.
James was seen getting involved in some sort of verbal altercation during the fourth quarter with a fan that was seated on the floor of the State Farm Arena. What exactly was said between the two is unknown, but one woman could be seen yelling and pointing angrily at James as security went over to assess the situation.
Ultimately, two women and two men were kicked out and play resumed, but James didn’t agree with that ruling and wished the fans were allowed to stay. “At the end of the day I’m happy fans are back in the building,” he said.
“I don’t feel like 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 didn’t think they should’ve been kicked out. But they might’ve had a couple drinks and they could’ve probably kept it going and the game wouldn’t have been about the game anymore, so I think the referees did what they had to do. It’s fine.
LeBron getting extra motivation from those in the crowd is nothing new and has been consistent throughout his career. Most recently a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers front office was a little too enthusiastic for James’ liking and he responded with a 21-point fourth quarter to take over that game.
Playing games without fans has taken some getting used to for players around the league and the desire to have them in the building and get back the atmosphere of an NBA game is something everyone hopes to return to sooner rather than later.
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel on the other hand, was focused on the fan in question having their mask down while yelling. “If that happened, then it certainly exposed something with regard to having fans during a pandemic,” Vogel said when asked about the woman not having her mask on during the exchange.
“You obviously can’t have fans taking their mask down and shouting at players 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.”
The league has been working to enforce stricter protocols around the league so having fans that close with masks off brings about another level of concern.
While there are multiple arenas who are now allowing limited numbers of fans in the buildings, Atlanta might be the only one with fans in that close proximity to the players.
NBA, NBPA discussions on roster expansion stalled
In addition to the NBA’s continued work on stricter health and safety protocols, they have also been in discussions on potential roster expansion across the league as teams have been ravaged at times due to the ongoing pandemic.
But currently talks between the NBA and NBPA have stalled over who should be eligible for this extra roster spot. The NBA would prefer for it to be another two-way contract which can only be used on players with three years or fewer experience, while the players association believes all free agents should be eligible.
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