LeBron James has played in almost 1,300 regular season and playoff games throughout the course of his NBA career—and it’s safe to say that he has probably been heckled during every single one of them.
While LeBron is going to go down as one of the best basketball players to ever set foot on a court, it hasn’t stopped fans from routinely trying to get under his skin. LeBron has taken the high road and chosen to ignore most of the hecklers who have sought out his attention, but on occasion, he will stop and engage a heckler, especially when he hears them say something that crosses the line.
Most recently, LeBron got into a brief war of words with a fan who questioned his 11-point performance against the Celtics in Game 3 of the 2017 Eastern Conference Finals. Even though the game was played at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland and not on enemy territory in Boston, the fan was so disappointed with LeBron’s play during Game 3 that he heckled him after the contest was over. LeBron heard him and responded by saying, "What did you do?" in his direction. It prompted the fan to shout back about how he had played basketball at a local school called Hiram College before he was ejected by security guards.
LeBron doesn’t always respond to his hecklers, but when he does, it usually makes headlines since people are surprised to see a player of his caliber trash talking with fans. Here’s a history of LeBron getting into it with hecklers.
Throwing Rocks at the Throne
Date: January 2008
What the hecklers said: Chris Bosh’s girlfriend Allison Mathis and several of Bosh's family members heckled LeBron during a Cavaliers/Raptors game in Toronto.
How LeBron responded: He struggled through the first three quarters of the game before exploding for 24 points in the fourth quarter to help the Cavaliers complete a 20-point comeback. Bosh tried to downplay the role the heckling had on the game, but LeBron let it be known that he told Mathis she was the reason he finished so strong. "I told her it was her fault why they lost," he said.
Date: February 2011
What the heckler said: With LeBron’s two sons sitting near the Heat bench, a Pistons fan reportedly said something about LeBron’s mom Gloria.
How LeBron responded: He confronted the fan and said, "What did you say to me?" When the fan repeated what he said, LeBron told him not to mention his mother to him. "I don’t care what you say to me," he said. "I don’t give a fuck what you say. But don’t be disrespectful." LeBron also spoke about the incident after the game and told reporters it’s "not right" that fans can say whatever they want to players.
Date: February 2012
What the heckler said: LeBron was standing by himself in the backcourt when a fan made a comment about the long-standing rumor about Delonte West and his mom.
How LeBron responded: A report emerged indicating that LeBron threatened the fan who made the comment. "The only reason you talk shit is because you know I can’t come off the court right now and beat your ass," LeBron said, according to a reporter who witnessed the confrontation. "But if I had a free pass, I’d kick your ass right now."
Watch Your Mouth
Date: June 2015
What the heckler said: As LeBron walked off the court following Game 2 of the 2015 NBA Finals, a female Warriors fan called him a "pussy ass bitch."
How LeBron responded: He stopped, turned around, and shot the woman a look that said, "What did you just say?" before proceeding on to the locker room. Meanwhile, a security guard turned around and told the woman to watch her mouth.
Kiss the Rings
Date: December 2015
What the hecklers said: A large group of Heat fans chanted "LeBron is tired!" as LeBron sat out his first game of the season during an away game against his former team.
How LeBron responded: He held up his left hand and rubbed his ring to remind Heat fans about the two rings he delivered to the city.
Date: December 2015
What the heckler said: A Warriors fan didn’t say anything, but she did act like a baby behind his back to suggest that LeBron was whining too much on the court.
How LeBron responded: He just so happened to turn around at the very moment the woman was pretending to be a baby. Can you say awkward?
Suck It Up
Date: February 2016
What the heckler said: An older woman—who was later identified as Judy Love, one of the richest women in America—yelled, "Just suck it up, LeBron!" after LeBron complained about a call.
How LeBron responded: He simply smiled at Love after hearing what she said. He also later posted a video of her yelling at him on Instagram along with the hashtag #JustSuckItUpLeBron that indicated he thought the whole thing was hilarious.
Date: January 2017
What the heckler said: It’s unclear what a Warriors fans said to LeBron during a regular season game in early 2017, but LeBron heard it mid-game and stopped to address the fan while getting back on defense.
How LeBron responded: He pointed to three of his fingers to remind the Warriors fan he has three rings.
Date: May 2017
What the heckler said: A Raptors fan sitting courtside said something to LeBron while he waited for play to resume during a playoff game.
How LeBron responded: LeBron took a shot at the fan's shoes. "You mad or nah?" LeBron said. "You should be mad at the shoes you picked out today."