The deeper we fall into this godforsaken NBA lockout, the more we search for remnants of normalcy, tokens to remind us that basketball is still basketball, mementos to remind us that the game will eventually resume. Good news, guys, I found one: Miami Heat forward LeBron James is still getting booed on the road.
On Sunday, James and fellow All-Stars Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony converged on Philadelphia to face a stacked local squad led by Tyreke Evans, Kyle Lowry and Hakim Warrick in a Team Melo vs. Team Philadelphia exhibition game at the Palestra.
James missed his final two shots from long range as Team Melo lost, 131-122, but he finished with 43 points and 23 rebounds. Great game, but his highlight dunks and high-flying play didn't automatically make him a crowd favorite. On the contrary, as the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports, James was booed multiple times by the Philly crowd.
James, who wore his regular-season No. 6 and played without his trademark headband, was booed during the introductions and at times during the game, including when he stepped in to take a third-quarter charge from Warrick. He later drew gasps when he swooped in for a fourth-quarter follow-up dunk, part of his 23-rebound effort.It's worth noting that, back in April, James and the Heat eliminated the 76ers from the Eastern Conference Playoffs in five games. James famously referred to the 76ers as "breakfast" during the series.
Does that explain the booing? Maybe, maybe not. There's also the lingering bitterness prompted by "The Decision," the fact that Philly fans will boo everyone (including Santa Claus), and the likelihood that many of the fans in attendance at the exhibition game do not regularly attend NBA games and thus were enjoying their first opportunity to express their disapproval to James in person.
Whatever the main motivating factor, the cheers were caught on tape. Here's video from the Team Melo vs. Team Philly exhibition, including a snippet of LeBron James getting booed by the crowd, courtesy of YouTube user Ballislifedotcom. The booing is most audible as James backs down 76ers point guard Lou Williams 10 seconds into the tape.