The Lakers suffered a disastrous 119-108 loss Saturday night when the Denver Nuggets went into Los Angeles and took a commanding 3-0 Western Conference Finals series lead.
While the loss leaves the Lakers and LeBron James in the unenviable position of having to pull off a 3-0 playoff series deficit comeback that no NBA team has ever accomplished, James didn’t leave the game without taking his pound of flesh — albeit unintentionally.
And much to the chagrin of Lakers fans, James didn’t even bloody a Nuggets player.
It was longtime NBA referee Scott Foster who bore the most noticeable battle scars after Game 3.
Deep in the second quarter of the game, the Nuggets had just scored on a basket, and in an effort to race up the court off the in-bounds, James collided with Foster.
Keep a particular eye on the bottom of the clip when it begins:
WARNING: The following video contains imagery that the viewer may find disturbing.
“I was already in sprint mode…my bad, Scott.”
LeBron, Austin Reaves, and Scott Foster mic’d up on ABC 🤣 pic.twitter.com/TX8rGyYQzZ
— NBA (@NBA) May 21, 2023
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At first glance, the collision hardly seems that bad.
But when you consider that James, a 6-foot-9, 250 pound man, was running full bore into a much smaller 56-year-old man, even a glancing blow could be catastrophic.
Somewhere in the bodily collision, Foster took a shot to the mouth or his face area, as evidenced by the splattering of blood on the veteran referee’s face.
James appeared overly concerned at first. In the clip above, he can be heard saying “the same as with us,” alluding to the automatic stoppage in play when a player bleeds.
“Relax,” an almost annoyed-sounding Foster responded. “I’ve got it.”
The referee then proceeded to wipe more blood off of his face with a towel.
While the imagery was initially gruesome, the entire incident led to a moment of brevity as James’ own teammate, Austin Reaves, jokingly threw him under the bus.
“That should be a tech[nical foul against James], honestly,” Reaves told Foster later in the game.
“I didn’t see him,” James said, jumping in. “I turned and went.”
“Nah, I was trying to get out of your way,” Foster responded matter-of-factly.
“My bad, Scott,” James said.
Foster appeared to be taking the situation a bit more seriously than Reaves (but perhaps not as seriously as James), before cracking a joke at James’ expense:
“You’ve been wanting to do that for 25 years,” Foster said to James.
James and the Lakers officially have zero margin for error as Game 4 gets set to tip off on Monday evening.
If the Nuggets can nab just one more win in four attempts against the Lakers, Denver will be heading to its first ever NBA Finals in franchise history.