LeBron James shoots hard on Utah Jazz fans, jersey burning

CLEVELAND, OH - MARCH 16: Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James talking to referee Gediminas Petraitis (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - MARCH 16: Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James talking to referee Gediminas Petraitis (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

LeBron James is crying foul on Beantowners for the burning of Isaiah Thomas jerseys. Utah Jazz fans have also drawn his ire.

When Gordon Hayward officially put a bow on his Utah Jazz career in July, Twitter was flush with videos of fans in Utah burning his No. 20 jersey in effigy. More recently, the Boston faithful have been setting fire to Isaiah Thomas jerseys after the Celtics dealt him to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Meanwhile, LeBron James is having none of it.

In response to the burning of Thomas jerseys, James offered some choice words for Celtics fans via Twitter. But he didn’t stop there — Jazz fans are catching his flak as well.

Here are LeBron’s tweets re: salty fans breaking out the Zippos —

So many thoughts come to mind when I read LeBron’s comments.

Firstly, I agree that the jersey-burning fad is getting ridiculous. What was once reserved for the game’s true villains has become a go-to move for surly fans everywhere. In almost any situation. It’s become basketball’s answer to storming the field or tearing down the goalposts.

Having said that, if somebody wants to burn a jersey they have the right to do so.

It’s not my way; after his strange tenure in Utah ended, I altered my Carlos Boozer roadie to read ‘Loozer’ on the back and continued to rock it. Call me crazy, but I’m not about to let $90 go up in flames. Moreover, I held no ill will toward the guy when he left.

The best move regarding former players’ jerseys is probably to donate them to those in need, but I digress.

I also agree with James on the IT burning specifically. Thomas didn’t just give the Celtics a lot of good basketball, he helped change the franchise’s trajectory. If he hadn’t blossomed into one of the game’s best scorers, the Celtics don’t become a No. 1 seed in the East or put themselves in a position to snag some big-time free agents.

And when Hayward hit the market this summer, Thomas did his part to lure the All-Star wing to Boston. He was clearly committed to the team’s success. So much so that he took the court for the C’s one day after his sister died in a tragic car accident during the 2017 playoffs.

Bottom line, Thomas didn’t choose to leave the Celtics; he was traded. If fans in Boston are intent on burning something, a Danny Ainge jersey would probably be more appropriate in this situation.

Now we’ve reached the point where LeBron and I diverge. Not all jersey burnings are created equal — Jazz fans have a legitimate gripe.

Not because Hayward did what was best for his career or his family, as LeBron asserts, but because he executed his departure in such a way as to kill Utah’s ability to find a suitable replacement.

Hayward’s decision dragged out for days while the free agent market dried up. Then the official announcement was further delayed so he could blog about it.

That’s bad. I would go so far as to say it usurps LeBron’s 2010 debacle on the league’s all-time list of free agent strangeness. It may even rival DeAndre Jordan’s hostage crisis for top honors.

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Ultimately, LeBron James has the right to say whatever he wants, just as fans have the right to burn jerseys that are their own personal property. But his shot on Jazz fans is as misguided as the behavior he’s condemning.