LOS ANGELES — Tempers flared just after the second-quarter buzzer in Friday night’s game between the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Lakers when several members of the Grizzlies engaged in a shouting match with Pro Football Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe, who was seated near the run.
Officials and security intervened to resolve the confrontation when several Grizzlies players, including dillon brooks, steven adams, ha morant and Morant’s father, Tee Morant, gathered on the sideline in front of his bench at Crypto.com Arena to get closer to Sharpe.
Sharpe, who works as a commentator for Fox Sports, was escorted by security through the tunnel to a back hallway of the arena, where he stayed through halftime before returning to his seat for the third quarter.
Part of Sharpe’s persona on his “Undisputed” show celebrates his unabashed fandom for the Los Angeles Lakers star. Lebron James in front of his co-host, Skip Bayless, a notorious critic of James. Sharpe appeared on the show wearing a goat mask and James’ jersey, suggesting that James is the NBA’s greatest player of all time, or GOAT.
Sharpe gave ESPN a brief interview on his way back to his seat before the second half.
“They didn’t want this smoke, Dave,” Sharpe said. “They do all that talking and manipulating and I don’t care about those maneuvers. He started with Dillon Brooks. I said he was too small to protect LeBron. He said, ‘Fuck me.'” I told him, ‘Fuck you. He started coming towards me and I said, ‘You don’t want these problems.’ And then Ja came out of nowhere talking. He definitely didn’t want these problems. Then the dad came and obviously he didn’t want any trouble.
“But I wanted everything they had. Don’t let these fools fool you now.”
Cameras later showed Sharpe and Tee Morant shaking hands and hugging late in the third quarter. The two hugged again after the final buzzer.
“Shannon didn’t do anything,” Tee Morant told ESPN. “Hey, she was doing what we do in South Carolina. We spoke our f—… South Carolina, stand up!”
James, who scored 23 points to take 260 points off Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time scoring mark, said he appreciated Sharpe’s presence.
“I mean, I travel with Shannon for 365 days, 366 in a leap year, 24/7,” James said after the game. “So, that’s my guy. So I’ll always cover for him, and he’s got mine. He can talk to the best, for sure.”
However, some of the Grizzlies players were in a less jovial mood about the matchup.
“I’m not talking about that,” said Brooks, who claimed he simply told Sharpe that James missed a shot defending him. “You can ask him. He’s the blogger or whatever. I don’t really care about all that. Next question.”
When asked if Sharpe’s behavior was appropriate for someone attending the game as a fan, Brooks didn’t hold back.
“A normal pedestrian like him? No,” Brooks said. “He should never have come back in the game. But this is Los Angeles.”
When Ja Morant was asked about Sharpe, she paused for about six seconds before speaking, then said, “let me think,” and was silent for a few more seconds before responding.
“Nah,” he said, thinking better of elaborating. “I’m not going to address that. I’ll let him live today.”
Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins also evaded a question about what happened to Sharpe and his team, saying simply: “I think the Lakers played extremely well tonight.”
The Grizzlies lost 122-121 to snap an 11-game winning streak. lakers guard dennis schroeder scored the game-winning basket with 7.6 seconds remaining after stealing the ball from Desmond Bane near center court and running for a y-1 layup.
“If we had followed our principles, we would have won the game by 15,” Brooks said.
Jenkins dismissed the importance of seeing the winning streak broken just before setting a franchise record.
“The disappointment is that we didn’t play at our level. I don’t care about a run,” he said. “No one should care about a streak. It’s about giving up, being 100 [percent] out there, having the right mindset. … To go out there and be outclassed in all areas is unacceptable.”