Wherever LeBron James and the Cavaliers are, there is bound to be an increased number of eyes focused on every move. Just this weekend we find out that the Cavs lead the league in road ticket sales when compared to median attendance, averaging over 2,500 extra fans to see the team from Cleveland – and more specifically, the guy who wears the No. 23 jersey. But in an report from Blazer’s Edge, it appears that one fan may have taken things a bit too far, drawing ire from James during pregame warm-ups.
The post deems James “without peer” when he is of the utmost focus, but then takes a small turn for the worst when describing some interaction between LeBron and a fan of the Portland Trailblazers.
Nearly two hours before the game I caught a glimpse of a more genuine James, and it wasn’t pretty. James wore headphones as he warmed up, locked in a cocoon of his own creation, heaving shot after shot. At the time, the Rose Garden was mostly empty and courtside security was not yet in place. Four teenage boys — mostly decked in Blazers gear– gawked as James went through his paces, ESPN cameras tracking his every move. As he worked towards the right corner, his admirers were within reach of a man whom they probably consider a superhero.
James mechanically drained his three pointers and then paused briefly as a ballboy went to retrieve a rare miss. Sensing an opportunity, one of the group reached out to James and patted him on the butt, not unlike teammates do countless times during every NBA game. Perhaps with a little more cupping action than usual but, nevertheless, an innocent gesture. The move bordered on the bizarre because it was clear the two had no prior relationship.
It was after this “innocent gesture” that James reacted negatively towards the fan. He reportedly removed his headphones (an accessory that is apparently casting ill light) and ran over to his teammates to explain what happened. James’ actions were described as “indignant” and “chest-puffing” as he was not very happy that a complete stranger would do such an act.
The Blazers Edge report tends to focus on the fact that James was upset that someone perceived to be beneath him on a social scale would touch him. However, aside from the “good game” pat that players tend to give each other, most men – especially in an environment that tends to not be as accepting of homosexual acts – do not welcome strangers touching their rear ends. While James may come off as condescending at times, the level of “importance” of the fan who touched him arguably did not factor in to James’ reaction. Using the qualifier “not unlike teammates do,” Blazers Edge attempts to justify an act that could result in removal from the facility if done in the presence of security.
At what point is a fan allowed to simply reach out and touch a player – specifically an opposing team’s player – during his warm-up period? There are strict rules that are read before every game making fans aware of their rights. These rights extend about as far as sitting in an assigned seat with the privilege of the use of washroom facilities. And hey, if you want to spend some more money at the concession stand or team shop, have at it. But that is usually it, save for those invited on to the floor to take part in team-related games, events, etc. At no point is a fan allowed to make contact with a player, and just because the player in question is as transcendent as LeBron James does not make this issue any different.
In the Blazers Edge post, James’ tact was questioned due to the way he mechanically goes through press conferences, even mentioning his attire. It is understandable that James, someone who has the media light cast upon him 25 hours per day would be scrutinized. However, in this instance, one has to place equal (if not more) fault on the fan that assumed he was granted the right to make contact with a player at any stage of the evening.
Media Row Report [Blazers Edge]
(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)