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How LeBron James’ trip to Seattle’s CrawsOver pro-am went from spectacle to disaster

Seattle’s pro-am was the center of the NBA universe this weekend. Unfortunately, the event had some issues.

The last time LeBron James played in Seattle, he was only 22 years old and had yet to make the first of his 10 appearances in the NBA Finals. But with the NBA offseason officially in the dog days, James decided to show up to Jamal Crawford’s Seattle pro-am The CrawsOver to hoop in the Emerald City for the first time since he faced Ray Allen’s Seattle SuperSonics back in 2007.

James wasn’t the only star in town: Jayson Tatum and Aaron Gordon also decided to play, as did Seattle natives Dejounte Murray, Paolo Banchero, Tari Eason, MarJon Beauchamp, and Isaiah Thomas. Chet Holmgren was there, too. With one of the greatest players of all-time joining one of the top young superstars in today’s game, along with the first two picks in the 2022 NBA Draft and several hometown heroes, this edition of The CrawsOver was always going to be a spectacle. Sometimes spectacles go wrong.

The game was called midway through the second quarter on Friday night because of slippery floors due to condensation at Royal Brougham Pavilion on the campus of Seattle Pacific University. The floors were just part of the problem: there was a huge contingent of unhappy fans who waited overnight to get into the gym, but were denied. Inside the gym, someone pulled a fire alarm and had to be scolded by Crawford himself.

Crawford apologized for the rough circumstances after the game was called.

A lot of the problems at The CrawsOver on Friday were understandable. James didn’t announce he was playing until a few days before the run, leaving organizers with little time to find a big enough space or make the proper accommodations. You can’t blame Seattle basketball fans for being excited about seeing NBA stars in their city again. Crawford reportedly emphasized getting children into the gym, which is a wonderful gesture. Overall, it is pretty remarkable Crawford was able to get so many great players join the run — unfortunately, the event just wasn’t pulled off as well as it could have been with a little more prep time and planning.

The game was called just before halftime when MarJon Beauchamp — the Milwaukee Bucks’ first round pick — slipped going up for a layup:

In addition to the floor issues, just getting into the gym seemed like a total fiasco.

The Seattle Times detailed fan frustrations outside the gym, where people who waited overnight failed to secure a spot in the gym as other fans cut the line.

Unique Cherry, who runs a basketball league in Tacoma, said that he was 198th in line at 3 a.m., while camping out Saturday morning. By 8 a.m., he said he was 400th in line. Folks would cut or join their friends and push the early birds to the back — but that was nothing compared to the scene a few hours later.

When I showed up, there was no line. There was just a mob. No structure of any sort. Seattle resident Abdi Abdi said he began waiting at 5 a.m. and didn’t get in until five minutes before LeBron’s game was scheduled to begin, adding that many of the early comers were drowned out by folks who arrived just before the gates were supposed to open at noon and never got in.

Fans who said they were there also didn’t seem happy:

It was clear James’ presence was always going to cause a scene. His entrance into the gym was quite the sight to behold:

LeBron gave the fans who did get into the building a treat by throwing down some sick dunks in the warmup lines.

He did it in the game too by finishing this lob from Tatum:

Tatum also gave the Seattle fans a show. He barely missed on the night, and drained a variety of tough stepbacks that he’s becoming known for as the face of the Boston Celtics.

Other notable happenings include Banchero and Murray seemingly squashing their beef:

Holmgren also showed off his defensive skills against LeBron, but came up limping on this play:

Crawford has built his pro-am into an awesome summer event for Seattle’s starved NBA fans. On short notice, The CrawsOver just didn’t have the infrastructure to pull off the biggest night men’s basketball has had in Seattle since the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City.

Either way, just look at all the talent in the house:

What a night for Seattle basketball fans. The Storm are rolling in the WNBA Playoffs, too.

Hopefully the NBA will be back in Seattle soon. The city deserves a proper set up to watch the best players in the world.