LeBron James Responds to Russell Westbrook ‘Popcorn’ Incident

LeBron James, Russell Westbrook

Getty Lakers star LeBron James stood up for long-time rival Russell Westbrook during Popcorn-Gate.

The cameras caught Russell Westbrook losing his cool on the way to the locker room after twisting his ankle. Nothing unusual there, from one of the league’s bad boys. But Westbrook’s outrage was fueled out of righteous disrespect this time in Philadelphia.

Westbrook had a few popcorn kernels dumped on his head as he was walking down the tunnel. His team was down by double-digits at the time and would go on to lose by 25 points in Game 2. Yes, it was a very rough night for the Washington Wizards.

Westbrook didn’t deserve to be turned into a human kettle and players from around the league rushed to his defense, including LeBron James. The Los Angeles Lakers star immediately took to Twitter and called for an investigation into Popcorn-Gate: “There’s cameras all over arenas so there’s no excuse!”

Westbrook was heated when the incident happened. The Wizards star appeared ready to jump up into the stands and take matters into his own hands. That wouldn’t have been a good look. Luckily, security guards held him back as the rowdy Sixers fan was escorted out of the arena.

After the game, Westbrook addressed the incident with very strong words:

To be completely honest, this s— is getting out of hand, especially for me. The amount of disrespect, the amount of fans just doing whatever the f— they want to do — it’s just out of pocket. There are certain things that cross the line. Any other setting … a guy were to come up on the street and pour popcorn on my head, you know what happens. In these arenas, you got to start protecting the players. We’ll see what the NBA does.

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Joel Embiid Praises Hometown Sixers Fans

Joel Embiid thrives off the energy from the home crowd in Philly. It challenges him to do better when they boo him and makes him smile when they shower kudos on him. The MVP candidate has talked often about missing Sixers fans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday, Embiid played in front of 11,000 fired-up fans and loved every minute of it. He even gave them a little “Thrust the Process” dance.

“There is no better crowd than Philly fans,” Embiid said after Game 2. “We know how loud they get, how excited they get, and how into the game they are.”

His comments were in general terms since he was never asked directly about the Westbrook incident. If so, he probably would have condemned it considering the collective disgust from his NBA peers.

And, yes, that is taking into account the vitriol between Embiid and Westbrook, a heated feud that traces its roots back to 2016 and another testy Philly fan.

Wizards Coach Reacts, Wells Fargo Center Comments

The Wells Fargo Center put out a statement on the Westbrook incident, saying it was “classless, unacceptable behavior” that has no place in their arena. It didn’t specify whether they were trying to locate the responsible party and reprimand him. Some are calling for a lifetime ban from NBA games. Others want to see the fan prosecuted. All this over soft, yummy popcorn.

“This was classless, unacceptable behavior, and we’re not going to tolerate it at Wells Fargo Center,” the statement read. “We’re proud to have the most passionate fans in the country and the best home-court and home-ice advantage around, but this type of behavior has no place in our arena.”

Wizards head coach Scott Brooks agreed with a lifetime ban for the offender but tried to take Philadelphia off the hook as a bad town. Remember, Brooks was a point guard for the Sixers from 1988-1990.

Added Brooks: “Very disrespectful. Philadelphia is better than that.”

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