NBA

NBA: LeBron James reacts to fan altercation in Lakers' win over Hawks

After exchanging words with Atlanta Hawks fans in the LA Lakers' 107-99 victory on Monday, LeBron James played the incident down post-game.

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NBA: LeBron James reacts to fan altercation in Lakers' win over Hawks

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James says he's pleased to see fans courtside again despite getting into an altercation with spectators during his team's road win at the Atlanta Hawks.

Four fans reportedly ejected from State Farm Arena after incident with LeBron James

ESPN reported four people were ejected by the Hawks following the incident late in the fourth quarter of the Lakers' 107-99 victory at State Farm Arena.

A woman later posted on social media claiming she got involved after her husband and James exchanged words. Cameras showed a woman involved in the argument with her mask pulled below her chin, something not allowed with rules in place amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Referees halted the game and security personnel were called over, but James looked to cool the incident when talking after the contest, which was attended by 1,341 fans.

"At the end of the day, I'm happy fans are back in the building," said James. "I miss that interaction. I need that interaction, we as players need that interaction. I don't feel like it was warranted to be kicked out."

James, who had 21 points, nine assists and seven rebounds, suggested alcohol may have been an influence in the incident.

He added: "They might have had a couple drinks, maybe and they could have probably kept it going during the game, and the game wouldn't have been about the game no more, so I think the referees did what they had to do.

"I love our fans. Laker Nation and everybody else that's against Laker Nation. It just feels better.

"Fans in the stands is just, it's just better. It's better for everybody. Especially on the last game of a 14-day road trip."

"You obviously can't have fans taking their masks down and shouting at the players with the virus out there" - Vogel

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel suggested the incident perhaps exposed a problem with having fans in attendance, especially when the woman lowered her mask.

"It certainly exposed something with regard to having fans in the pandemic," Vogel said. "You obviously can't have fans taking their masks down and shouting at our players with the virus out there during these times."

Anthony Davis concurred but like James is happy to see fans back. "With covid going on, we obviously can't have that [masks being pulled down]. We want to make sure we all can be safe," Davis said.

"We love having fans at the game. Whether we're home or away, it just brings back the game that we love, that joy from the fans and the support.

"Whether it's 500 people or 1,000, 1,500, whatever it is, it's always enjoyable to play in front of a crowd."