LeBron James Hits Out at 'Courtside Karen' As Ejected Hawks Fan Goes on Instagram Tirade

LeBron James joked that an Atlanta Hawks fan was "mad" after the woman was among four people ejected from State Farm Arena for a spat with the Los Angeles Lakers star.

The four-time NBA champion exchanged words with two fans courtside during the fourth quarter of the Lakers' 107-99 win over the Hawks in Atlanta, forcing the referees to stop the game before security personnel removed them from their seats.

"Courtside Karen was MAD MAD," James tweeted after the game. The name "Karen" has come to be used as pejorative slang for an obnoxious, angry, entitled and often racist white woman.

Courtside Karen was MAD MAD!! 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

— LeBron James (@KingJames) February 2, 2021

Footage of the incident, which has since gone viral, shows two women not wearing masks and standing courtside. One of them repeatedly points her finger aggressively toward James before sitting down, while the other records the scene on her smartphone.

James exchanges words with one of the referees, who then discusses the issue with the other two members of the officiating crew. The referees then gesture for security personnel to intervene.

Refs stop the game after a Hawks fan heckles LeBron pic.twitter.com/NsoFjyel97

— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 2, 2021

A separate clip taken from a different angle shows James reply to the fans, before walking away toward the middle of the court as the referees take control of the situation.

The referees stopped the game after LeBron was heckled by a spectator in Atlanta. pic.twitter.com/apoDqvt4ll

— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 2, 2021

One of the women was subsequently identified as Juliana Carlos, who was ejected along with her husband, Chris.

Carlos then posted an expletive-laden video on Instagram to offer her version of events, claiming James had used derogatory terms toward the couple.

who does she think she is 😭😭pic.twitter.com/RAGdJpsrTj

— Kobes Burner (@KobeSexuaI) February 2, 2021

"So, I'm minding my own business and Chris has been a Hawks fan forever. He's been watching the games for 10 years," she said.

"Whatever, he has this issue with LeBron. I don't have an issue with LeBron. I don't give a f*** about LeBron.

"Anyway, I'm minding my own business, drinking my [beverage], having fun. All of a sudden, LeBron says something to my husband and I see this and I stand up and I go, 'Don't f****** talk to my husband!'

"And he looks at me and he goes, 'Sit the f*** down, b****.' And I go, 'Don't f****** call me a b****. You sit the f*** down. Get the f*** out of here. Don't f****** talk to my husband like that.'"

James had been in a more conciliatory mood earlier, when he told reporters he relished having fans back and sought to minimize the spat.

"At the end of the day, I'm happy fans are back in the building," he said after the game.

"I miss that interaction. I need that interaction, we as players need that interaction. I don't feel like it was warranted to be kicked out."

However, he acknowledged Carlos and her husband gave the referees no choice with their behavior.

"They might have had a couple drinks, maybe," he said.

"And they could have probably kept it going during the game, and the game wouldn't have been about the game no more, so I think the referees did what they had to do."

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel suggested the incident was a reminder of the risks players are exposed to if fans don't wear masks.

"It certainly exposed something with regard to having fans in the pandemic," he said.

"You obviously can't have fans taking their masks down and shouting at our players with the virus out there."

The incident is the second time James has been involved in a courtside spat in just over a week. On January 25, the four-time NBA Finals MVP criticized a Cleveland Cavaliers executive for being "a little too excited about seeing me miss."

The unnamed member of the Cavs' front-office group celebrated after James missed a go-ahead three-pointer in the third quarter of the Lakers' 115-108 win in Cleveland.

James acknowledged the jibe with a knowing nod, before scoring 21 of his 46 points in the fourth quarter in an outburst reminiscent of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.

LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half against the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena on February 1. James was involved in a spat with Hawks fans courtside. Kevin C. Cox/Getty