The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Atlanta Hawks on Monday, Feb. 1—but the score isn't what has the Internet talking.
Instead of the scoreboard, it was what was unfolding on the sidelines between LeBron James and courtside ticket holder Juliana Carlos that has since sparked headlines. Juliana was ultimately kicked out of the arena with her husband, Chris Carlos, and the rest of their group after a heated exchange.
"There was a back and forth between two grown men," LeBron said in a press conference after the game. "We said our piece. He said his piece. I said my piece and then when someone else jumped into it and said their piece, but I didn't think they should have been kicked out, but they might have had a couple drinks maybe and they could have probably kept it going and the game wouldn't have been about the game no more, so I think the referees did what they had to do."
Juliana shared her side in a since-deleted video on her Instagram Story, telling viewers that her husband, a Hawks fan, has an "issue" with LeBron. "All of a sudden LeBron says something to my husband," she claimed. "I see this and I stand up and go, 'Don't f--king talk to my husband.'" According to Juliana, LeBron retorted by calling her a bitch and telling her to sit down, allegedly spurring more expletives to be flung back and forth until she was kicked out.
"'Don't f--king call me a bitch,'" she reenacted screaming at LeBron in her Instagram video. "'You sit the f--k down. Get the f--k out of here' and I go, 'Don't f--king talk to my husband like that. Don't talk to my husband.'"
In another video on social media, she claimed to have threatened LeBron that she would "f--k" him up if he spoke to her husband again.
While the interaction caused a commotion during the game, LeBron is glad to have spectators again. "At the end of the day, I'm happy fans are back in the building," he said during the press conference. "I miss that interaction. I need that interaction. We as players need that interaction. I don't feel like it was warranted to be kicked out."
As for Juliana pulling her face mask down to scream at him amid the coronavirus pandemic, the athlete was not too concerned. "I don't think taking down the mask or whatever the case may be at that point in time would harm anybody but the people that was right next to her," he explained. "I wasn't close enough to her. I don't think any of my teammates were close enough to 'em." He did note a few of the referees, who were not wearing masks, may have been closer to her. "I hope they're ok," he said. "Safety first."
Juliana has since apologized in a statement shared to her Instagram.
"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," she wrote. "My husband is a huge sports fan and we're passionate people, and let's be real: sports wouldn't be sports without a little trash-talking."
She continued, "What should have been quick back-and-forth between two adults got out of hand and my natural instinct to stand up for the man I love kicked in. Did I get defensive when that happened? Yes. Did I use offensive language when I could have taken the higher road? Yes. And for these things, I take full responsibility."
Meanwhile, it seems LeBron got a laugh out of the situation as he tweeted just after midnight, "Courtside Karen was MAD MAD!!"