LeBron James continues to play at an unparalleled level in the NBA, but the rest of the LA Lakers are letting him down. The team lost to the Raptors on Monday and fell to an eye-opening 29-39 record. This is the worst team record of LeBron’s long career, and his frustration is evident both on and off the court.
During Monday’s game with the Toronto Raptors, James at one point appears to corral the basketball from going out of bounds and whips it hard toward the court. However, he angles his throw directly at the Raptors’ superstar rookie Scottie Barnes, hitting the 20-year-old with the ball. Barnes looks unfazed in replays, but the Raptors’ fanbase took to social media to lambast James for seemingly lashing out at his opponent.
It’s hard to tell from the video whether James intentionally aimed his throw at Barnes. It’s evident from his body language that he’s frustrated–the Raptors launched ahead to a 19-2 lead over the Lakers early in the game. James isn’t the kind of player who’s accustomed to losing, let alone getting blown out.
However, Barnes seems unfazed by the impact and doesn’t seem to challenge James after the incident. Some fans have given James the benefit of the doubt, while others feel he was purposefully lashing out in frustration.
After the game, the rookie Raptor told reporters that he was most surprised by the sequence of events. “I was on the floor, he pushed me on the floor, then I saw him loading up and I just thought, ‘Oh man.’ That’s why I really just tried to cover myself so it didn’t hit me in the face. He put a lot of power into it, cocked it back, threw it. I was like, damn,” Scottie Barnes explained.
Some Raptors fans have noted that Barnes should laugh this incident off. He’s playing exceptionally well in his debut season–many expect him to win the Rookie of the Year award.
Barnes went on to sink 21 points in the Monday game against the Lakers, securing nine rebounds and five assists. If he’s playing well enough to get under LeBron James’ skin on a random Monday in March, he’s doing something right.
Barnes has a long, promising future in basketball. Hopefully, he’ll take this dust-up as a compliment. As things stand, the Raptors are favorites to go far in the playoffs. If they do, you’ll hear much more about Scottie Barnes.