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TNT and reporter Allie LaForce caught criticism from NBA fans on Twitter Wednesday night for one of her questions directed at LeBron James, but it turns out the pair had discussed the questions beforehand. In a courtside chat with James after his NBA playoff game, LaForce asked him to weigh in on the recent passing of San Antonio Spurs coach (and James advocate) Gregg Popovich’s wife Erin.
The Spurs announced Popovich’s passing Wednesday while James’ Cleveland Cavaliers were playing Game 2 of their first-round playoff series with the Indiana Pacers, and James seemed overwhelmed with emotion once the topic was broached during his interview. The sincerity of his reaction led a lot of fans to believe that James was hearing the news for the first time.
“That’s such a tragedy, and my best wishes go out to Pop and his family,” James said at the time. “When something like this happens, it puts everything in perspective.”
An emotional LeBron finds out live on air that Gregg Popovich’s wife Erin has passed away. pic.twitter.com/GNtRVWZ86I— Chris Martin Palmer (@ChrisPalmerNBA) April 19, 2018
Fans on Twitter thought the basketball icon seemed blindsided by the question and had a lot of feedback for TNT and LaForce.
Disgusting to not let him find out in private.— Max Graham (@MaxGraham) April 19, 2018
Can’t blindside a player like that after a game with a question like that....awful job by you!!!— KevinMerz (@KMerz11) April 19, 2018
You guys have no class springing that question on Lebron in a live post game interview on court.— mike pelletier (@mpelletier) April 19, 2018
You should delete this and apologize to both LeBron and Pop's family.— Mike Sandmel (@mikeysandmel) April 19, 2018
But it turns out LaForce had vetted the question with James before the cameras were rolling. James was quick to squash the drama Wednesday night, posting a video from his ride home to clear the air.
“I’m not on social media right now, but I was made aware through some friends, through texts, that a question was asked to me postgame, and a lot of people feel like I was blindsided,” he said. “That is absolutely false. Allie LaForce told me that she was going to ask me the question and if it was OK.”
“That was just my emotions coming straight from my heart about the late Erin Popovich,” he continued. “Also, guys, please get off Allie LaForce’s back, because she followed the proper protocol and she warned me. Get off her back, man. She’s very professional and she does a great job at her work.”
So there you have it: beef squashed.
James’ Cavaliers won their game 100-97 and will continue on toward the NBA title.
Christine Friar is a writer and editor in New York who focuses on streaming entertainment and internet culture. Her work has appeared in the Awl, the Fader, New York Magazine, Paper Magazine, Vogue, Elle, and more.