CLEVELAND -- Late in the third quarter of Wednesday’s 120-111 Cleveland Cavaliers win over the Los Angeles Lakers at Quicken Loans Arena, Cavaliers star LeBron James threw a two-handed bullet pass toward a teammate in the right corner, and Lakers rookie point guard D'Angelo Russell jumped up to deflect it.
Video clips of what happened next went viral immediately.
James’ pass nailed Russell, the No. 2 overall draft pick in 2015, square in the groin, and the crowd immediately gasped as Russell quickly collapsed, lying face-down on the court, where he remained for a few minutes.
Russell’s teammates and the Lakers’ training staff encircled the former Ohio State standout while three replays of the incident were shown on the arena videoboard, each one drawing a pained groan from the fans.
“The way the crowd sounded, it seemed pretty obvious that it hit him right in the spot,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “I felt for him.”
Russell rose to his feet and was helped off the court while several of his teammates couldn’t help but laugh. He later returned to the game and said he was all right.
"It was tough. Every guy knows the feeling,” said Russell, who finished with 15 points on 5-of-11 shooting in 28 minutes. “Laugh about it now and then two months from now, somebody else will have something else to laugh about.”
Said Russell’s teammate, Kobe Bryant, “It was hilarious. It was so funny. Once I knew he was OK, the jokes write themselves. That was a good time.”