Four fans at court – at least one of whom didn’t cover their faces with a mask – were expelled from Monday’s game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Atlanta Hawks after a verbal spit with Lakers star LeBron James, the Hawks confirmed to ESPN.
Juliana Carlos, who later posted on social media, and her husband Chris Carlos exchanged views with James in the fourth quarter of the Visiting Lakers’ 107-99 victory, prompting the expulsion.
Juliana Carlos posted a video on her Instagram account showing the scene shortly after State Farm Arena security and one of the referees, Mitchell Ervin, intervened.
You can hear her say, “Shut up. Don’t talk to my husband like that,” while she stands on the sidelines with her mask under her chin. You can hear someone off camera asking her to put on her mask, which is required of all fans attending NBA games this season. She wrote “f – ing loser” in a text box to accompany the video, with her camera pointed at James.
After the expulsion, Carlos posted a selfie-style video in which she recounted what had happened.
“So, I run my own business, and Chris has always been a Hawks fan. He’s been watching the games for 10 years. Anyway, he’s had this problem with LeBron. I have no problem with LeBron. Me don’t Give an F — about LeBron, “she says in the video. “Anyway, I mind my own business and drink mine [beverage], Have fun. Suddenly LeBron says something to my husband and I see it and get up. And I go: “Don’t talk to my husband.” And he looks at me and says, “Sit down, b —-.” And I go: »Don’t call me b —-. They sit down. Get the f — out of here. Don’t talk like that to my husband. ‘”
James was not asked about Carlos’ name allegation after the game, but he was not impressed with the incident and said he felt an expulsion was unnecessary.
“At the end of the day I’m glad the fans are back in the building,” he said after collecting 21 points, 9 assists and 7 rebounds to help LA win on the streets. “I miss this interaction. I need this interaction. We as players need this interaction. I don’t feel like I was justified in getting kicked out.”
LeBron James admits he misses the interaction with fans and is not sure if the audience should have been removed from the game.
However, he said alcohol could have been a contributing factor.
“Maybe they had a few drinks,” he said. “And they could probably have kept it going during the game and the game wouldn’t have cared about the game. I think the referees did what they were supposed to do.”
James also said that Chris Carlos “got out of hand” with anything he directed against him. “I guess [Carlos] said something that rubbed the big dawn the wrong way, “added Lakers Center Montrezl Harrell.
While James said he wasn’t close enough to fans to potentially be compromised by Juliana Carlos removing her mask, other members of the Lakers found this unacceptable.
“It certainly showed something in terms of fans in the pandemic,” said Lakers coach Frank Vogel. “Obviously in these times it can’t be fans taking off their masks and yelling at our players with the virus.”
“With COVID we obviously can’t have that,” repeated the great man Anthony Davis. “We want to make sure we are all safe.”
James later tweeted about Carlos, giving her a mocking nickname that is commonly used to mock legitimate white women.
The Hawks are one of nine NBA teams that currently allow fans to play their home games. State Farm Arena in Atlanta currently allows up to 8% of its capacity for Hawks games, according to a team official. The announced attendance on Monday was 1,341.
Despite the episode, several Lakers still supported fans who came to their games.
“We love having fans at the game. Whether we’re at home or out, it just brings back the game we love, the joy of the fans and the support,” said Davis. “Whether 500 or 1,000, 1,500, whatever it is, it’s always fun to play in front of an audience.”
“I love our fans,” James repeated. “Laker Nation and everyone else who is against Laker Nation. It just feels better. Fans in the stands are just – it’s just better. It’s better for everyone – especially the last game of a 14-day road trip.”