MIAMI — LeBron James is earning $17.5 million this season. But the Miami Heat star sure got excited about seeing somebody make $75,000.
Between the third and fourth quarters of Miami’s 110-88 win Friday night over Detroit at AmericanAirlines Arena, a fan who had been selected for a contest on James’ website made a halfcourt hook shot to win the money. With the crowd roaring, James stormed the court and tackled the fan with joy.
“Once he made it, it was instinct,” James said. “It didn’t matter what consequences came with it. Ain’t going to be none. I was excited about it. I’m excited for him. Excited for the moment. It was pretty awesome. That’s just who I am.”
The fan, Michael Drysch, 50, of McHenry, Ill., had been selected randomly out of 30,000 applicants in a contest sponsored by Carmex and featured on LeBronJames.com. When Drysch made the shot, it also meant the lip-balm company that has a deal with James donated $75,000 to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.
“It was great to make the shot and have LeBron coming to say, ‘Hi, nice to meet you,'” Drysch said. “He said, ‘Great shot.'”
Guard Dwyane Wade has won two titles in his 10 years with the Heat. But he’s can’t remember seeing anything like that before at AmericanAirlines Arena.
“It was like us when we won the Finals,” said Wade, who won titles in 2006 and 2012. “I was listening to the play the coaches were drawing up and I heard screaming going on.
“I don’t think I’ve experienced that since I’ve been here. It was a great moment. That was a tough shot for anybody to make. Professionals, we try them all the time. For him to step up there, not to stretch, loosen up and to hit a hook shot. All net. You get kind of jealous a little bit.”
The always-confident James, though, figured it was a shot he could make.
“Oh yeah. I got that,” James said of his repertoire. “Give me enough tries, I’ll make that.”
Well, Drysch, a computer technician, got one try. He drilled it.
Drysch, who flew to Miami on Thursday, said he’d been practicing a variety of halfcourt shots in the past week and nothing really worked. After he tried a one-handed attempt, he said the shots at least were close.
Drysch said he will use the money for bills and to pay taxes. He was asked if his shot might get him a role in the Heat organization.
“Maybe I’ll be an assistant coach or mascot or something,” he said.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra didn’t see the shot. But then he looked up and saw his star player bowling over a guy at halfcourt.
“I just heard the eruption and I turned and saw LeBron absolutely tackle him,” Spoelstra said. “I had no idea what was going on. I figured he hit it, but the tackle blew it away.
“I think the fan, while he’ll love the (money), I think having that on video, LeBron James tackling you at halfcourt in front of 20,000, I think that will be the longer lasting memory.”
“I think it was an out-out-body experience,” Wade said of James tackling Drysch. “I’m sure the tackle from LeBron will rank up there with one of his best moments.”
Forget just Drysch. James’ tackle figures to rank as one of the most entertaining sports moments for some time.