LeBron fires back after controversial interview about NBA coach's dead wife


The NBA and the entire sports world mourned the passing of San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s wife, Erin, on Wednesday.

Erin Popovich died at the age of 67 after a protracted battle with an undisclosed illness. She had been married to Gregg for four decades, during which time the couple had a pair of children, as well as two grandchildren.

It was a tough situation for the NBA fraternity. Generally speaking, Popovich is one of the most beloved figures in the NBA by players and other coaches.

“We mourn the loss of Erin,” Spurs general manager R.C. Buford said in a statement, via ESPN. “She was a strong, wonderful, kind, intelligent woman who provided love, support and humor to all of us.”

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While the outpouring of condolences and love for Popovich is unsurprising, that didn’t preclude a bizarre controversy surrounding Erin Popovich, a sideline reporter and Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James.

Immediately after James and the Cavaliers evened their first-round series against the Indiana Pacers with a 100-97 win, he was approached for the customary post-game interview by TNT sideline reporter Allie LaForce. With news just breaking about Erin Popovich’s passing, James had previously been unaware of what had happened. He was visibly shaken from the questioning, which was unsurprising when considering how close he is to Gregg Popovich.

LaForce’s interview with James drew decidedly mixed reviews.

On the one hand, there’s something guttural and powerfully emotional about James’ reaction. And as he’s arguably the face of the NBA, it’s certainly newsworthy to get his reaction to the passing of an iconic coach’s longtime wife.

Do you think LaForce's line of questioning was inappropriate?

On the other hand, some people thought there was something mildly sleazy about seemingly exploiting a person’s death to elicit a big reaction from a superstar player.

Well, James was not having any of it. As soon as the controversy began to swirl, he took to social media to set the record straight.

In a video clip, James clarified that he wasn’t blindsided by LaForce’s questioning, and that he only started getting emotional after talking aloud about Erin Popovich’s passing. He also made a point to tell people to leave LaForce alone, and noted that she was not being exploitative.

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Rather, James claimed LaForce had let him know ahead of time what was coming.

“Also, guys, please get off Allie LaForce’s back because she followed the proper protocol and she warned me,” James said. “She’s very professional and she does a great job at her work.”

Gregg Popovich will miss Game 3 of the Spurs’ first-round series against the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night. Assistant coach Ettore Messina will fill in as the interim head coach.

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Bryan Chai has written news and sports for The Western Journal for more than five years and has produced more than 1,300 stories. He specializes in the NBA and NFL as well as politics.
Bryan Chai has written news and sports for The Western Journal for more than five years and has produced more than 1,300 stories. He specializes in the NBA and NFL as well as politics. He graduated with a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. He is an avid fan of sports, video games, politics and debate.
Class of 2010 University of Arizona. BEAR DOWN.
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