Fans are speaking out with their frustrations after the Lakers on Tuesday invited WWE legend Ric Flair to hype up the crowd at the Staples Center ahead of their game against the New Orleans Pelicans. Taking the court, Flair dubbed player LeBron James "the greatest athlete," words that did not settle well with many considering that he was in "The House that Kobe Built" just a day after a public memorial for Bryant.
"Los Angeles, home of the greatest franchise in sports, The LA Lakers," Flair began. "And the home of the greatest athlete in the world today, LeBron James, The King."
"Lakers, let's do it!" he added, concluding with a series of his infamous "Wooooooo" war cries.
"This was a huge mistake on behalf of the [Lakers] – they follow up the incredible [Kobe Bryant] tribute hours later by having a fake wrestler from yesteryear on the court giving a shout out to [LeBron James]? Huh?" one person reacted to Flair's presence and statements at the game.
"For all the years Ric Flair to be a Laker fan, and the Lakers organization wait until LeBron joins the team to bring in Slick Ric to be a hype man?" asked another. "Whatta f–ing disgrace. Kareem, Magic and Kobe 'in God's hands' deserved better than this fraudulent s—…"
"This is [Kobe Bryant] house!" declared a third Lakers fan. "[LeBron James] never won no chip here. This the type of s— y'all doing now? Kobe's memorial was just yesterday and Lebron didn't even attend! He's the definition of a clout chaser! First y'all get Dwade now this, [NBA on TNT] turning y'all off now!"
Tuesday's game, which saw the Lakers beat the Pelicans 118-109, came just a day after the Staples Center was packed with fans mourning the deaths of Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and the seven other lives lost in the fatal Jan. 26 Calabasas helicopter crash.
Although it remains unclear if James himself was in attendance, others in the crowd included Bryant's fellow NBA players Michael Jordan and Shaquille O'Neal, both of whom took the podium on a stage surrounded by 33,643 roses to give emotional farewells to the late NBA legend.0comments
"Mamba, you were taken away from us way too soon," O'Neal said in part. "The next chapter of your life was just beginning, but now it's time for us to continue your legacy."
"You said yourself that everything negative — pressure, challenges — is all an opportunity for me to rise. So we now take that sage advice, and we now rise from anguish and begin with the healing," he added. "Just know that we got your back, little brother."