Jae Crowder tried to wrestle LeBron James in Game 1 of the 2020 NBA Finals, and the King was not pleased.
The NBA Finals are bound to get heated at some point. These are the world’s greatest basketball players competing against each other to reach the sport’s Mount Olympus, after all, and these guys are used to winning at the highest level. It’s only natural that competing for an NBA title would stoke their competitive fire, especially in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, rampant social injustice, cabin fever from living in the Orlando bubble for months and all the anxiety and mental strain that comes with all of that.
In Game 1 of the 2020 NBA Finals on Tuesday night, tempers flared as early as the first half after Miami Heat wing Jae Crowder dove after a loose ball and wound up locking LeBron James’ arm in something that looked straight out of WWE.
The Los Angeles Lakers star was not too happy about it, and that was just the start of those emotions boiling over.
I mean, just look at this instant classic of a freeze frame:
Twitter had a field day with the play, but LeBron James and Jae Crowder were not happy
That kind of loose-ball foul has no place in basketball, but apparently Crowder was inspired by his Heat teammate Kelly Olynyk, who once nearly pulled Kevin Love’s arm out of his socket back when Olynyk’s Boston Celtics faced LeBron’s Cleveland Cavaliers.
In any case, James — who never forgets anything that happens over the course of a 48-minute basketball game — was happy to talk some trash a few possessions later when he snagged an offensive rebound on Crowder, elbowed him to the side like he was a rag doll and got fouled on the offensive put-back.
Was it an offensive foul on James? Most likely. But it wasn’t called, and with LeBron ready to head to the foul line and the Lakers feeling the surge of momentum, the King didn’t hesitate to let Crowder know he needed to hit the weight room, pounding poor Anthony Davis’ chest in the process:
All right, we get the smack talk directed at Crowder, but why are you banging on your own man’s chest? AD is fragile, LeBron! And even with a double-digit halftime lead, the Lakers are going to need him healthy to win their 17th championship.
In any case, you’ve got to love the NBA — not just because no one was hurt on Crowder’s dangerous play, but because no one in this league ever forgets a thing.