The Lakers have dug themselves a hole that, statistically, they aren’t going to get out of. After Sunday’s 119-108 loss to the Denver Nuggets, the Lakers and LeBron are down 3-0 in the best-of-7 series. No team has ever returned from a 3-0 deficit in a playoff series.
James played well, logging 23 points, 12 assists, and seven rebounds in the game, but his biggest impact was on referee Scott Foster.
As James was turning to race upcourt for a fast break, the 56-year-old official couldn’t get out of the way, and the lumbering, aging superstar ran him over, bloodying the officials mouth in the process.
James could be heard on the courtside microphone saying: “I was already in sprint mode…my bad, Scott.”
The Western Journal described the play:
But when you consider that James, a 6-foot-9, 250 pound man, was running full bore into a much smaller 56-year-old man, even a glancing blow could be catastrophic.
Somewhere in the bodily collision, Foster took a shot to the mouth or his face area, as evidenced by the splattering of blood on the veteran referee’s face.
James appeared overly concerned at first. In the clip above, he can be heard saying “the same as with us,” alluding to the automatic stoppage in play when a player bleeds.
The referee then proceeded to wipe more blood off of his face with a towel.
“Relax,” an almost annoyed-sounding Foster responded. “I’ve got it.”
Of course, since players rarely hustle during the regular season, James’s actual “sprint mode” might have caught Foster out of position. During the course of an 82-game season that features players largely jogging up and down the court, it is understandable that referees can be occasionally caught out of position when the players are actually trying.
"I was already in sprint mode…my bad, Scott."
LeBron, Austin Reaves, and Scott Foster mic'd up on ABC 🤣 pic.twitter.com/TX8rGyYQzZ
— NBA (@NBA) May 21, 2023
No foul was called, and the official and player exchanged pleasantries after the fact, but not before James’ teammate Austin Reaves playfully tried to get LeBron called for a technical:
“That should be a tech[nical foul against James], honestly,” Reaves told Foster later in the game.
“I didn’t see him,” James said, jumping in. “I turned and went.”
“Nah, I was trying to get out of your way,” Foster responded matter-of-factly.
“My bad, Scott,” James said.
The bloodied and possibly bruised Foster later told James: “You’ve been wanting to do that for 25 years.”
The Lakers are in a historic position. If they can rally and win the series, it will be a first. While it isn’t likely, as James is no longer the player that can elevate a team and put them on his aging shoulders, he addressed the deficit pots-game via Fox News: “I can’t speak for the guys right now because I don’t know what’s going through all their minds, but I still (believe),” James said. “So it’s time to go right back home and start to refuel and start the treatment process and recovery process and get ready for Monday. My mindset is always locked in.”
His mindset might be locked in, but his body is aging, and his legend is fading. James and the Lakers likely won’t survive this series, and the Nuggets will almost certainly be headed to their first NBA Final.
"*" indicates required fields