LeBron James is one of the nicest players on and off the court. He has navigated his illustrious career with minimal to no controversies, he’s opened up his own school to help the less fortunate kids from his home town, and he seems to get along with pretty much everyone everywhere.
The same holds true for NBA referees. James often gets friendly with game officials, and he remains respectful to them — most of the time, at least. At the end of the day, however, James is still a competitor. Sometimes, he gets caught up in the heat of the moment, and ends up expressing his dismay on the refs.
James has a unique relationship with NBA game officials, and below we’ve conjured up some of his most memorable moments with/against them.
Let’s start things slow. One time, LeBron inadvertently hit — well almost — a referee with a ball on the official’s face. Thankfully, the ref had some cat-like reflexes and was able to protect his face. He also had a good sense of humor, and was able to laugh off the incident, which LeBron obviously did not do intentionally. Check out the incident at the 0:55 mark of the video below. Unsurprisingly, the players on the opposing team tried to lobby for a tech against James — to no avail.
LeBron James knows how to have fun while on the basketball court, and sometimes he has a knack for some self-depreciating humor. Take for instance that one time that he told the ref about his defensive shortcomings the previous season just to be able to prove a point.
Talking about having a laugh, James’ funniest moment with a ref has got to be the time he did the arm wave dance right after having some words with the game official.
It’s not always fun and games with LeBron James, though. He’s actually much more serious and intense most of the time. Remember that incident that he literally stopped his dunk while in mid-air because of a referee’s call? This is easily one of the greatest almost-dunks of all time.
Another memorable incident James had involving game officials was the time he decided to play defense with his hands behind his back. He did this as a way to protest what he perceived to be bad calls from the referees on his team. The clip below explains the incident in detail.
ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith actually agreed with what LeBron was trying to prove, and the animated broadcaster absolutely went off (as usual) on the refs for allegedly favoring James Harden and the Houston Rockets.
Now on to some of James’ more heated moments. At one point, a referee got fed up with all of James’ complaining and literally shouted at LeBron to stop it. James was understandably upset with how the official berated him, telling the referee not to talk to him like that saying, “I’m not your kid!”
LeBron James has his tipping point, too. The very first time he was ejected in his career came during a lopsided contest with James’ Cleveland Cavaliers leading the Miami Heat by 23 points. James’ intensity was not at all affected by the blowout nature of the contest. He got in the official’s face after what he deemed to be an awful non-call, and he probably said something that wasn’t very nice. This led to an early shower for LeBron.
As a bonus, we have one wherein LeBron isn’t actually playing. It was during his son, Bronny’s high school game. LeBron was unhappy with one of the calls and decided to have words with the officials.
LeBron James may be intense during his games, but as it turns out, he’s even more fierce when it’s his son playing.