LeBron James Once Flouted NBA Rules Mid-Game Leaving Coach in a State of Animated Surprise

Published 06/21/2022, 8:30 PM EDT
Mar 14, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) reacts against the Toronto Raptors during the first half at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James once blatantly violated the NBA rules in an attempt to make a substitution on the fly. In fact, King James decided to leave the floor after failing to receive a pass from a teammate. However, the match officials prevented James from just stepping off the court without notice and expecting a substitution on the fly.

NBA officiating is a constant source of controversy in the NBA community. The NBA officials deal with a boatload of accusations from fans and the media about giving out preferential treatment to certain players of stature.


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The notion is well-known among players too. Therefore, NBA stars often attempt flopping or play-acting in games to get a foul call for little to no contact. This tendency has been a constant source of debate in the basketball world.

LeBron James attempts a substitution on the fly

LeBron James walked off the court in the middle of the third quarter in a regular-season matchup against Atlanta Hawks in 2015 and sat down on the Cleveland Cavaliers bench. Cavs small forward Richard Jefferson hurriedly stood up to take James’ position on the court.

Meanwhile, the Hawks had already inbounded the ball before Jefferson could get in. Therefore, the referees had to stop the play to make the substitution. Cavs coach Tyronn Lue seemed as baffled by the whole debacle as anybody on the stands. In a recent video, Ryan Simmons said, “I would be really fascinated to see what would happen if a really terrible player tried to do this.”

Ty Lue discussing strategy with LeBron James during their Cleveland Cavaliers days. Photography by Jason Miller/Getty Images

The Cavs were leading the game by 26-points. The Hawks could have used a one-man advantage. Especially if that man’s name was LeBron James.

But the referees immediately stopped the play because of a rule violation. The NBA rules clearly state that an “Offensive player shall not leave the playing area of the court without returning immediately and cannot repeatedly leave and re-enter the court.

Moreover, the scorer’s table has to be informed before any player could get in. A team cannot replace a player in the middle of an ongoing offensive play.

The 2015 Cavaliers


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Despite breaking the occasional rule, LeBron James carried the Cavaliers to four straight NBA Finals from 2015 to 2018. After losing 4-2 to Golden State in the 2015 finals, the Cavs would come back from a 3-1 deficit to win the 2016 NBA Finals.

LeBron James would claim the MVP after a remarkable Finals showing. And thus, he would finally fulfill his promise of bringing home a championship for Cleveland.


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What do you think of LeBron’s rule violation? Let us know in the comments.



Satagni Sikder

323 articles

Satagni Sikder is an NBA writer for EssentiallySports. He has a Master's degree in English from Jadavpur University, Kolkata, and has been following the NBA since 2017. Moreover, he supports the Dallas Mavericks, and unsurprisingly, Luka Doncic is his favorite player.