This has easily been the most frustrating season of LeBron James’ decorated career and he took out some of his anger on Toronto Raptors rookie sensation Scottie Barnes on Monday night.
James, still performing at an All-NBA level while the Lakers posted an abysmal 29-39 record, bristled when the Raptors ran away with the game early on, breaking out with a 19-2 start and no to look behind. .
During the third quarter, in an apparent attempt to prevent the ball from going out of bounds, James aggressively hit the rock against Barnes, who was already on the ground in a valiant attempt to corner the fumble. This is the play in question:
Was this a dirty play by James, who earned the first suspension of his career earlier this season after elbowing Detroit Pistons forward Isaiah Stewart, or a normal basketball play? We’ll let you decide, but the Raptors’ vocal fanbase has already made its opinion clear on Twitter.
Barnes, for what it’s worth, was apparently unfazed. The 20-year-old started the game on fire, hitting his first five shots and finished with 21 points, nine rebounds, five assists and two blocks in 40 minutes. At this point in the season, Barnes is challenging Cleveland Cavaliers forward Evan Mobley for Rookie of the Year honors and is one of the main reasons the Raptors could avoid the entry tournament.
Still, it must be a jarring experience watching LeBron James throw a ball to you during your rookie year. LeBron made his NBA debut when Barnes was just two years old, an age difference we should note, even for the sheer hilarity of the GOAT losing his cool on a random Monday night.
“I was on the ground, he pushed me to the ground, then I saw him charging and I was like, ‘Oh man.’ That’s why I really just tried to cover myself so he wouldn’t hit me in the face. She put a lot of power into it, hammered it back, threw it. I was like, damn,” Barnes told reporters after the game.
Perhaps this is flattery in its highest form. LeBron has seen it all and for Barnes to make such an impression on the King bodes well for his seemingly limitless future.
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