The NBA has just started allowing fans to watch games live again with a whole bunch of stipulations and protocols meant to minimize the risk of contracting COVID-19. Social distancing practices are currently being enforced, with only a limited number of fans allowed to see the action in person. A whole new host of cleaning products are used to maintain the arena, as well.
And while a lot about attending a live sporting event is different these days, some things never change — "Courtside Karen" and her argument with LeBron James proves that.
Who is "Courtside Karen" and why was she angry with LeBron James?
Audience members heckle; that's what they do. Especially when they're passionate fans and the away team has the gall to come to their city's stadium and lay the smackdown on their franchise.
The Lakers beat the Hawks 107-99 in their visit to Atlanta, but two fans in particular weren't having it. In fact, it appeared they tried to get into LeBron's head during the game as the two got involved in an argument with the four-time NBA championship winner.
In the above clip, "Courtside Karen" can be seen standing up and confronting LeBron, who murmurs something about the situation and walks back onto the court. A stadium worker approaches the "Karen," whose mask is around her neck and not on her face. She tries to "wave" the situation off, indicating that she's done as she sits back down in her seat.
The confrontation was so disruptive that referees ended up stopping the action and talking with security officials. This additional angle provides further context for how seriously Courtside Karen's behavior was taken as several officials accosted her and her husband. It was pretty apparent that it wasn't going to end well for the woman, and it didn't.
"Courtside Karen" was ID'd as Juliana Carlos, who gave her events of what happened with LeBron and her husband.
Juliana and her husband were ultimately escorted out of the stadium. In a follow-up post on her Instagram page, she delineated what happened.
"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. I don’t have an issue with LeBron. I don’t give a f--k about LeBron," she says in the clip.
She continues, "Anyway, I’m minding my own business … 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--king talk to my husband.’ And he looks at me and he goes, ‘Sit the f--k down, b---h.’ And I go, ‘Don’t f--king call me a b---h. You sit the f--k down. Get the f--k out of here. Don’t f--king talk to my husband like that."
LeBron James didn't directly address Courtside Karen's version of events from her Instagram post, but did have this to say:
In a post-game press conference, The Guardian reported James as saying he didn't think Courtside Karen and her husband's behavior "warranted" the couple being kicked out:
"At the end of the day, I’m happy fans are back in the building. 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."
It appears that LeBron misses even the more confrontational aspects of fan participation, even if it means he's getting heckled. He didn't clearly delineate exactly what Chris Carlos said, but indicated that both he and his wife seemed a little tipsy.
"They might have had a couple drinks, maybe. And they could have probably kept it going during the game, and the game wouldn’t have been about the game no more, so I think the referees did what they had to do."
LeBron wasn't asked about whether or not he called Juliana a "b---h" in the press conference, but there are many NBA fans who aren't believing the woman's claim that LeBron just started with Chris Carlos out of nowhere.
Currently, there are 9 of 30 NBA teams that are allowing fans to watch games live. The Hawks, for example, are allowing seating for 8 percent of their stadium's 16,600 capacity this season.