Last night, LeBron James made headlines for reasons beyond the hardwood.
Sure, the Cleveland Cavaliers handily beat the Toronto Raptors in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Sure, there were spectacular dunks and 3s. Sure, the Cavaliers silenced those who wondered if they'll make it beyond the first round.
But James really got the internet buzzing when he paused for a beer during the third quarter -- sort of.
James was called for a foul and stopped along the sideline, where an arena employee was carrying a tray with a bottle of beer. James grabbed the bottle and pretended to take a swig, though he didn't really drink any.
That's not Gatorade, LeBron pic.twitter.com/hEq4HlXEM3— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) May 2, 2017
In fact, James told reporters in his postgame press conference that he really isn't a beer drinker. Had it been a glass of wine, he said, maybe he would have indulged.
The moment had many Cavs fans feeling gleeful over James' fun, playful attitude. But some people watching questioned why James didn't receive a technical foul for his antics, and pondered whether he'll be fined for his faux thirst.
We reached out to the NBA and the Cavaliers to verify if James should have been T'd up, and if there's any chance he'll still have to pay the price.
The short answer: No and no.
It's not the first time James has done something like this. In the past, he's been seen helping himself to nachos from generous fans in the stands.
In this case, it seems that fans may be falling for the shock value of an adult beverage. Had James reached for another helping of nachos or some fries, his actions may not even be in question.
"I think the beer bottle probably triggers a different thought process," a Cavaliers team spokesperson told us.
An NBA spokesperson said no, James should not have received a technical foul and no, he won't be fined.
NBA rules are sometimes up for interpretation by officials, but state nothing on actions like James'.
League rules state, "A technical foul(s) may be assessed to any player on the court or anyone seated on the bench for conduct which, in the opinion of the official, is detrimental to the game."
Since he did not throw anything (like a ball or mouth guard) and did not make contact with a fan, James is in the clear.
"It doesn't fall into the technical category," a Cavaliers spokesperson said. "It's more like the fun fan engagement category."
NBA Front Office