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LeBron James says he wasn’t blindsided by question about Erin Popovich’s death during postgame interview

LeBron James was emotional Wednesday night when asked by a TV reporter about the death of Erin Popovich, wife of San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, earlier that day.

That’s why the Cleveland Cavaliers star was having trouble putting his thoughts together after TNT reporter Allie LaForce posed the question, James said later in a video posted by his Uninterrupted media network in response to numerous social media posts that were suggesting LaForce had put him on the spot.

“A lot of people feel like I was blindsided. That is absolutely false,” James said on the Uninterrupted video, which he filmed on the way home after the Cavaliers’ 100-97 playoff victory over Indiana.

“Allie LaForce told me that she was going to ask me the question, and if it was OK. And once I started talking about it, once we were on air, my emotions just kind of took over and that was just my emotions coming straight from my heart about the late Erin Popovich.

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“It’s unfortunate. It’s a tragic loss. My thoughts, my prayers once again go out to the Popovich family, to Gregg, to the Spurs family, to the whole Spurs fan base. And also, guys, please get off Allie LaForce’s back because she followed the proper protocol and she warned me, so get off her back, man. She’s very professional, and she does a great job at her work.”

The Spurs confirmed Erin Popovich’s death Wednesday but didn’t provide further details. She was 67 and had been married to Gregg Popovich for four decades.

During a postgame interview following the Cavaliers-Pacers game, LaForce asked James whether he had anything he’d like to say to Gregg Popovich. James paused before answering and appeared to be fighting tears throughout his response.

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“Obviously, I’m a huge Pop fan. I love Pop,” James said. “That’s such a tragedy. My best wishes go out to Pop and his family. That’s devastating news. It’s a lot. The NBA family, we all stick together. I know we compete every night, but something like this happens, it puts everything in perspective.

“I sent my well wishes and my prayers up to the heavens above. I know the man above never makes a mistake, even when you sometimes have to ask why. That’s just terrible news. Best of luck to Pop, everybody in San Antonio, the whole Spurs family. That’s all I can say, Allie.”

charles.schilken@latimes.com

Twitter: @chewkiii


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