LeBron James didn't get a warm welcome in Detroit on Friday night, but the Miami Heat got the last laugh as they topped the Pistons, 106-92. Throughout the game, a fan within earshot of LeBron got into it with the Miami superstar, prompting LeBron to fire back at one point. Though the interactions between LeBron and the fan started as playful, they quickly took a turn for the worse as the Heat pulled away.
The Miami Herald's Joanne Gerstner reported the incident, triggered by a jab by the fan directed at LeBron's mother.
"Is your mom going to Boston for Valentine's Day?" a front-row Pistons fan yelled at him during a timeout at the start of the second quarter.
"I don't give a [expletive] what you say about me, don't be disrespectful," James said. "That's all I ask."
The taunt was in reference to the ridiculous rumor linking Delonte West, now with the Boston Celtics, to LeBron's mother last year while both were in Cleveland.
Players and fans commonly interact throughout the game in a verbal way, though it's usually players answering the taunts of hecklers with their play. It's not uncommon for the taunts to go too far, either, but part of being an NBA star is having a thick skin.
Still, I don't blame LeBron for firing back. He's heard enough of the tired Delonte West whispers over the past year and it has to get old. At the same time, answering back -- and having it widely reported -- gives ammo to hecklers everywhere, who now know which buttons to push in the future.
In the end, it was just a minor storyline as LeBron nearly messed around and got a triple-double --16 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds -- in the Heat's 106-92 win.