Miami Heat star LeBron James has apologised for using the word "retarded" in response to a question about Kevin Durant before last night's showdown with the Oklahoma City Thunder, insisting that he meant no offence by the throwaway comment.
James was asked in his pre-game interview about Durant's improved passing this season and replied: "That is retarded to me. Kevin Durant is great at being a passer."
The Heat forward outscored his MVP rival with a game-high 34 points but could not stop OKC recovering an 18-point deficit to triumph 112-95, with Durant the catalyst after he scored more than 30 points for the 12th successive game.
A fierce battle between Durant and James set the tone for a tough contest, with Miami letting an 18-point lead slip for only the fourth time since the 'King' hooked up with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh at the AmericanAirlines Arena.
LeBron may have disappointed in his post-game interview but quickly addressed his earlier comment before fielding questions, telling the Sun Sentinel: “I used the word retarded before.
"Obviously, it had nothing to do with kids that are underprivileged . There’s no knock on them. It’s a word that’s been around for a long time where I grew.
"It’s a bad habit, so I try to break it. If I use it again, I’m going to try to do my best not to. I mean no disrespect.”
The reigning MVP's poor choice of words is not an isolated incident, with the ex-Cavs talisman producing a similar response to a question following a playoff clash with the Boston Celtic back in 2011.