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LeBron James on Monday had a bit more than basketball to contend with when a couple of fans courtside in Atlanta began a verbal altercation before they were ejected.
The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Hawks, but not before a man and woman, later identified as Juliana Carlos, began shouting insults at James. The exact nature of the remarks is unclear. But TV cameras showed the fans’ masks had been removed during the back and forth with the superstar athlete and actor-producer.
Lakers broadcaster Bill Macdonald even joked that the moment looked like a meme.
Although James did mock the female individual, who was the most animated of the two, by referring to her as “Courtside Karen” via Twitter (which was trending all morning), he said after the game that he was glad fans were allowed back in some arenas and that he didn’t totally agree with the ejection.
“At the end of the day, I’m happy fans are back in the building,” James told reporters post-game. “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.”
Around 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Carlos issued an apology on her Instagram account, stating in part, “To say things escalated quickly at yesterday’s game is an understatement, and I want to apologize for losing my cool and removing my mask in the heat of the moment. Did I use offensive language when I could have taken the higher road? Yes. And for these things, I take full responsibility.”
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) February 2, 2021
2 p.m.: Updated with a statement from Juliana Carlos.
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