Emoni Bates replies to a fan saying he might be the ‘worst player I’ve ever seen’ play for the Cavs

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David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Emoni Bates hasn’t had all that much time to make any kind of impact in the NBA as of yet, but that didn’t stop one fan from issuing a harsh critique that drew a social media response from the Cleveland Cavaliers rookie.

Before responding to the fan, Bates posted some inspiring messages on X.

Bates has appeared in just 15 games in his first season with the Cavs and is averaging 2.7 points and fewer than one assist and rebound per outing. He played a career-high 29:25 in the regular season finale on Sunday, when he shot 3-for-12 from the field, including just 1-for-5 from 3-point range, to score seven points in a loss to the Charlotte Hornets.

That uninspiring performance might be what drew the critical reaction from the fan, because there really isn’t much else to base it on, at least at the NBA level.

It also may stem from the perception of expectations that accompanied Bates after he was a second-round pick (No. 49 overall) in the 2023 NBA Draft. He was considered a possible steal of the draft at the time, a thought that was reinforced when he erupted for 29 points – including seven 3-pointers – in his G League debut.

But like any young player, he has had many ups and downs since then, and this is not the first time he has engaged with fans. Some interactions have been constructive, like Bates replying on social media to someone saying that he needed more reps in the NBA to become a better player. Others were more contentious, as he went back and forth with a fan after Bates posted some support for Miles Bridges after the Charlotte Hornets player served a lengthy suspension related to domestic violence.

Also during the regular season, Bates was suspended for entering the spectator stands following a G League game when comments to him and his family may have provoked him. The incident drew a message of support from Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff.

The No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference, Cleveland has a first-round series against the No. 5 seed Orlando Magic that begins Saturday at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. One of his favorite sports memories is the Cavaliers-Nets playoff series from 1993.