The Cleveland Cavaliers lost their first game of the postseason Sunday night – a 111-108 loss to Boston in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals – and a fan in the arena wouldn’t let LeBron James live it down.
So he heckled him. After the game. In Cleveland.
“I thought it was one of the funniest things I’ve seen in the NBA all season,” ESPN NBA reporter Brian Windhorst said on CBS Sports Radio’s Reiter Than You. “Nobody in the moment thought it was that funny, though. It was a lot of stress.”
Some background: In the regular season, players get interviewed in the locker room. In the playoffs, though, they get interviewed at a podium. Well, James was en route to the media room when a fan tore into him for only scoring 11 points that night – this after scoring 30+ in eight straight playoff games.
“(LeBron is) walking through this area earlier than usual, and there’s this fan there,” Windhorst began. “I don’t know if he’s a Celtics fan, a Cavs fan – whatever – and he says something to LeBron about his 11 points. Now look, LeBron gets heckled thousands of times on a weekly basis, but it usually doesn’t happen in a small hallway in his home arena. So LeBron (answers) back and he goes, ‘What did you just say?’ And to the guy’s credit, he repeated himself – because a lot of people would cower in that moment. He repeated himself. I didn’t exactly hear what he said, but I heard 11 points. So LeBron says, ‘Well, what did you do?’ And he said, ‘I played basketball for Hiram College.'”
That’s right. Hiram College, a Division-III school in Hiram, Ohio.
“I was barrel-laughing at this point,” Windhorst said. “Because the concept of heckling LeBron James in his own arena – four-time MVP, three-time Finals MVP, one of the greatest players of all time – and saying you played Hiram College as a retort is like telling Tiger Woods that you par-ed 18 at Pebble Beach. I just thought it was a hilarious comeback to LeBron. LeBron was in no mood at the time, and there’s all these security guards and everybody was stressed out. I think it would be amazing if LeBron showed up to shoot-around (Tuesday) wearing a Hiram College T-shirt. He does these little statements with his T-shirts sometimes. It would be amazing if he did that.”
Game 4 of the conference finals is on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. ET. If victorious, the Cavs can close out the Celtics in Boston on Thursday.