The Atlanta Hawks have opened an investigation into an incident that led to four fans being ejected from State Farm Arena on Monday after allegedly yelling obscenities at LeBron James of the visiting Los Angeles Lakers, Hawks CEO Steve Koonin told The Athletic.
Juliana Carlos, one of the people ejected from the arena, said in an Instagram video that her husband, Chris Carlos, was cursed out by James during the game.
"There was a, you know, a back-and-forth between two grown men, and we said our piece," James said. "He said his piece, I said my piece. And then somebody else jumped into it and said their piece, but I didn’t think they should have been kicked out. But they might have had a couple drinks maybe. And they could have probably kept it going during the game, and the game wouldn’t have been about the game no more. So I think the referees did what they had to do. And I mean, it’s fine."
The Hawks are one of only 10 NBA teams allowing fans at games.
During the fourth quarter of Monday's Lakers-Hawks game, Juliana Carlos was seen and heard screaming toward the court. Referees stopped play as Carlos had moved from her seat with her mask down and was yelling in the direction of James. After the arena’s security came over, Carlos and her group were escorted out of the building.
Carlos apologized for "losing my cool and removing my mask in the heat of the moment" in a statement posted to Instagram on Tuesday.
"What should have been a quick back-and-forth between two adults got out of hand and my natural instinct to stand up for the man I love kicked in," she wrote. "Did I get defensive when that happened? Yes. Did I use offensive language that I could have taken the higher road? Yes. And for these things, I take full responsibility."
According to The Athletic's Hawks beat writer Chris Kirschner, the team will review social media videos that Carlos and other fans in the area posted of the incident before determining if additional punishment is warranted. Her husband has been to numerous Hawks games spanning several years and sat courtside without any known incident before Monday’s game. Koonin said this is the first investigation he’s been a part of involving fan behavior from someone sitting courtside.