LeBron James lit Twitter on fire during the LA Lakers‘ recent win over the Atlanta Hawks. It wasn’t because of his play, either, although he did score 21 points to go with seven rebounds and nine assists. It was actually because of an altercation that occurred between him and some spectators that resulted in at least four fans getting ejected. In addition to Twitter having fun with the incident, calling the woman who was heckling James “courtside Karen,” ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith also had a strong message about the altercation. Smith ultimately revealed whether or not he felt the fan deserved the ejection.
‘Courtside Karen’ and others were ejected from the Lakers-Hawks game
At least four fans got ejected from the LA Lakers game against the Atlanta Hawks on Feb. 1. This happened after James exchanged some words with at least two fans, a husband and wife named Juliana and Chris Carlos, according to The Athletic. The game’s broadcast showed Juliana — with her mask down — getting out of her seat and yelling at James.
Juliana then took to social media after the game.
“So, I’m minding my own business, and Chris has been a Hawks fan forever. He’s been watching the games for 10 years. Whatever, he has this issue with LeBron,” she said, according to the New York Post. “I don’t have an issue with LeBron. I don’t give a f*** about LeBron. Anyway, I’m minding my own business, drinking my [beverage], having fun. All of the sudden, LeBron says something to my husband, and I see this and I stand up. And I go, ‘Don’t f****** talk to my husband.’ And he looks at me and he goes, ‘Sit the f*** down, b****.’ And I go, ‘Don’t f****** call me a b****. You sit the f*** down. Get the f*** out of here. Don’t f****** talk to my husband like that.’”
There is no evidence that James actually used that language. James also downplayed the incident after the game.
“At the end of the day, I’m happy fans are back in the building,” James said, according to CBS Sports. “I missed that interaction, I need that interaction, we as players need that interaction. I don’t feel like it was warranted to be kicked out. There was a back-and-forth between two grown men. 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 of drinks, maybe, and they could’ve probably kept it going and the game wouldn’t have been about the game anymore, so the referees did what they had to do.”
LeBron James and others joked about ‘courtside Karen’ on Twitter
Juliana, also known as “courtside Karen,” became an immediate internet joke after the game.
Comedian Kristina Wong, on the other hand, made fun of what appears to be a significant age difference between Juliana and her husband.
“Why do men marry their granddaughters then bring them to basketball games to yell at LeBron James,” she tweeted.
There were also many other memes flying around the internet because of the incident too.
Stephen A. Smith addressed the incident
The “courtside Karen” incident was a topic of debate on ESPN’s First Take the day after the game, and Stephen A. Smith revealed whether he felt the fans should have been ejected or not.
“Based on what we saw on video and what LeBron James said, no, I don’t believe that [she should have been ejected],” Smith said on the Feb. 2 episode. “I think that in this day in age, and particularly with what the world is going through, and specifically here in America in the sports world, to see fans heckling players and stuff like that is actually welcomed; to be honest with you. There are limits … but other times when they’re heckling you and bothering you, I don’t think that it warrants ejection.”
He continued: “She seemed a bit acerbic when she jumped into the fray — whoever that person was with the gentleman LeBron was arguing with — but I appreciate what LeBron is saying.”
Max Kellerman agreed with Smith’s opinion. He also said that James’ tweet, calling her “courtside Karen” was “hilarious.” He did note, though, that if the basis of her ejection was the fact that her mask was down, then he could potentially understand the decision to eject her.
Courtside Karen has certainly caused a stir on social media, but the popular opinion seems to be that her actions didn’t warrant an ejection from the game.
Stats courtesy of ESPN