While the main story from the Los Angeles Lakers ending their road trip was a win over Atlanta Hawks, a subplot developed with LeBron James and courtside fans at State Farm Arena.
Late in the game, James found himself in a shouting match with a husband and wife who were sitting courtside. The wife was particularly animated in her anger towards James.
She later claimed via Instagram that James had said something unsavory directed towards her husband. The husband, wife and two others were removed from the contest before the Lakers would go on to win with the help of some late heroics from James.
After an investigation into it, none of the fans involved were banned by the Hawks, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
There will be no ban forthcoming for the four courtside fans ejected from Monday's Hawks-Lakers game, now that the Atlanta Hawks have conducted an investigation into the incident, a league source tells ESPN
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) February 2, 2021
This was not the first time in recent NBA history where a player and fan found themselves fighting one another. However, the fan is generally not welcome back to the arena, making this a more rare case.
The wife, who has been referred to as “courtside Karen,” was visibly angry with James in the moment. That did not subside after the fact, as she went on a lengthy Instagram rant explaining her side of the story. What likely saved her and the fellow fans from further punishment was the apology she posted to her account on Tuesday.
James did not believe fans should have been ejected
Despite the anger being directed at James, he chose to take the high road after the game. He not only laughed the situation off, but also defended the couple, saying they should not have been kicked out.
“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,” James said.
“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.”
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