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LeBron James, Ellie Day collision proves courtside can be a dangerous place

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James falls into Ellie Day,

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James falls into Ellie Day, wife of PGA Tour golf player Jason Day, at left, during an NBA basketball game Dec. 17, 2015. Credit: AP / John Kuntz

Carmelo Anthony has been there — hurtling toward the stands in an effort to do the thing he’s trained to do: save the ball, make the play.

In that moment, he said, there’s nothing else.

But the truth is, with courtside seats at a premium and media members, the television crew and scorers crowding around the court, there’s plenty else going on besides basketball.

On Thursday, that came into focus when the Cavaliers’ LeBron James, chasing after a loose ball, crashed into Ellie Day, the wife of pro golfer Jason Day, and sent her to the hospital.

Day was sitting courtside — that prime position that people pay thousands to occupy — and the collision, more serious than most, seemed inevitable.

“You’re not really aware,” Anthony said. “If that’s the case, we wouldn’t be jumping in there. You’re not really aware of what’s going on and who’s there. At that point, you’re just kind of worried about making the play for your team. It’s unfortunate, though.”

On Friday, Day tweeted that she was back from MetroHealth Medical Center and feeling OK. The night before, she was carted away on a stretcher during the fourth quarter of the Cavaliers’ victory over the Thunder at Quicken Loans Arena.

Day, who had to be immobilized after the hit, showed symptoms of a concussion and had a few scrapes and bruises from being knocked to the ground with the 6-8, 250-pound James on top of her.

“I am incredibly sore and exhausted,” she wrote on Twitter. “Being tackled by that large man I would compare to a minor car accident. My head and neck hit pretty hard, so it was scary. My whole body feels like it was hit by a truck.”

James, who checked on Day during a timeout and tweeted his apologies after the game, told reporters that the incident didn’t affect his opinions about courtside seating and that it “doesn’t happen much.”

“I think it’s a great experience for our fans” to sit courtside, he said, adding that if he were a spectator, that would be his spot of choice. Collisions, while unfortunate, are part of the game.

That seemed to be the consensus in the Knicks’ locker room, too. Kristaps Porzingis, who has yet to experience his first real fan collision in the NBA, said it was “an unlucky situation that happens in basketball.”

Derek Fisher, who had a few collisions in his day, said they weren’t as serious because when he hit someone, he didn’t produce the (literal) impact of someone as big and fast as James.

“I was never moving as fast or as explosive as was, so I didn’t have those concerns,” said Fisher, who played for 19 seasons. “Most guys try to go up and over, which is pretty dangerous in itself . . . I think as players, guys are trying their hardest to make the plays and fans are really close and involved in the game. A lot of media members sit below the basket. They get crashed into as well. As long as everyone is OK, we just have to continue to look at it that way.”

Most collisions — with fans, the reporters who often sit behind the baskets, and the photographers and cameramen who sit on the floor and usually bear the brunt of the hits — don’t end as dramatically as James’ collision with Day. (The NBA recently took measures to limit the number of photographers who sit along the baseline.)

The NBA has not said whether the severity of the Day collision will make the league reconsider the proximity of seating. Severe collisions are so rare, however, that it seems unlikely.

One thing is clear, though — as long as there is basketball, there will be players giving chase.

“Maybe we should stay out of the stands,” Anthony said, “but then our coaches would get on us about hustling.”

New York Sports