So, I’ve been all about the NBA Playoffs this year, and in case you missed it, here was the best part of last night's Boston Celtics v. Cleveland Cavaliers game. I watched the play happen live, and I couldn’t really understand all the layers of what was going on until much later.
After this hard, wrap-up foul by Paul Pierce, Lebron James, rather than basking in the deafening boo’s of the hometown crowd and walking around with a “Damn-I-was-gonna-do-a-sick-dunk!” scowl as often happens on plays like this, instead comes out of the melee looking uncharacteristically flustered and then gives Pierce a puzzling, gentle dap on the chest.
At the time, I figured this was a sportsman show of solidarity between two compassionate athletes, recognizing, in spite of the bloodthirsty, stupid jeers of the fans, that it’s just a game.
But I had a weird feeling that there was more to the story than that. (It was similar to the way I felt in those perplexed seconds between Zinedine Zidane’s red card and the first replay of his headbutt to Marco Materazzi’s solar plexus.)
A few minutes later, during TNT’s halftime show with Charles Barkley and Magic Johnson, all the talking heads were laughing when a shot of Lebron’s mom, sitting harmlessly on the sideline, flashed across the screen. Then, they showed the clip again, and you realized what had happened.
Lebron James's mom, sitting right behind the basket, had elbowed her way into the fight and was screaming at Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, presumably for fouling her baby too hard. When Lebron realizes what's going on, he turns to his mom and yells what, after careful lip reading, can only be, "Sit yo' ass down!"
More than anything, I love how shocked KG and Paul Pierce are at this: not that Lebron's mom got in the fray in the first place (KG seemed like he recognized her and was diffusing the situation at first), but what really seemed to make things awkward was when Lebron snapped at her.
It's obvious KG and Pierce had no idea how to react, and Lebron seems really embarrassed too. Maybe it was because his mom brought it back to high school with a couple dudes who are worth more than a lot of developing countries. But I secretly think he was most flustered by how harshly his "Sit yo' ass down" came out. When he said it, he looked the way any 23-year-old would look if his mom showed up at his office and told his coworkers to stop giving her baby a hard time.
When Lebron goes over to give Pierce that sportsman-like tap on the chest, it looks, on a second viewing, like Paul is thinking to himself: "Damn, I can't believe he just cursed out his mom like that."
This is like every kid's worst nightmare, except televised on TNT and number 1 on youtube today.
Update: Lebron James is grounded for the next two games.
More Recent Update: Lebron James’s mom was seen leaving her local Mercedes dealership with a new convertible.
Even More Recent Update: Lebron is un-grounded.