You can call him any name you’d like. “LeKaren,” “LeSnitch,” it doesn’t really matter. All that matters is that in his 19th NBA season and at 36-years-old, LeBron James is still one of the greatest players in the world. And he proved it Wednesday night in Indiana.
Much ado has been made about what occurred during overtime of the Lakers vs Pacers game on Wednesday. Midway through the overtime period, James had two fans sitting in courtside seats ejected from the arena. James is used to fans hurling heinous insults his way. It’s part of the job and it also comes with the territory of being one of the greatest players to ever play the game of basketball. So, the two fans must have said something particularly offensive to rile James up to the point of having them thrown from the arena.
There has been speculation on what was said — something terrible about James’ son has circulated the internet — but nothing more than speculation. Following the game, James refused to divulge what exactly the fans said to him, except that it “went outside the lines.”
“I mean nothing is uncomfortable for me, but there’s a difference between cheering on your home faithful, booing opponents and things of that nature or not wanting your opponents to be successful, and there’s then moments where it goes outside the line with obscene gestures and words that shouldn’t be tolerated in our game from nobody,” James said in his postgame news conference. “I would never say it to a fan and a fan should never say it to a player.”
James is correct. Basketball is entertainment, and James is the entertainment in any game in which he participates. The fans may be part of it, but ultimately they are in the arena to be observers and nothing more. Once you’ve crossed the line of making yourself part of the contest — by yelling terrible things at a player — you’ve now become part of the game and you’ve opened yourself up to the consequences.
But the fans being ejected from the game is only part of the story. Unruly fans are thrown from arenas all over the country on a weekly basis. We just aren’t privy to their ejection in the way we were on Wednesday night.
It was James’ response afterward that deserves to be discussed.
On Thursday, the typically moronic comparison to Michael Jordan was made. “Jordan would never have fans thrown out of the game for whatever reason, thus Jordan will always be better than James.”
It’s an argument that completely misses the mark.
What James did following the fans’ ejection was Jordanesque.
Jordan was well known for finding any edge, and slight in order to gain the advantage on his competition, and then silencing the crowd with his play.
It’s exactly what James did in an overtime win.
The Lakers badly needed a win, losers of four of their last five games, and sitting below .500 on the season. The fact that they were forced into overtime with a sub .500 Pacers team was a bad enough sign, until James took over.
Seconds before James had the fans ejected from the arena, he hit a step-back three pointer to give the Lakers a 117-114 lead. On the Lakers possession following the interaction with the two spoiled fans, James buried another long-range three, silencing the Indiana crowd and giving the Lakers a six-point advantage with 1:52 to go in overtime.
LEBRON JAMES NO WAY
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) November 25, 2021
With under a minute to play and the Lakers up four, James hit his patented fall away jumper to put the Lakers up six and put the game on ice.
“James is a great player, he got hot,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “We needed to do some things to limit his touches. We did not and we paid the price.”
James finished the night with a season-high 39 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists, putting a struggling Lakers team on his back in a 124-116 win. He responded when his teammates needed him most — scoring 15 of the Lakers final 21 points — and after he knew he’d be hammered in the media for having two fans ejected from the game.
Call him any name in the book, but if GOAT isn’t near the top, you’re doing it wrong.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to email@example.com.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.