Case closed: After vandalism, controversial 'of' removed from new LeBron mural in LA

LOS ANGELES – A new LeBron James mural on an outside wall of Baby Blues BBQ in Venice, California, has undergone quite the saga in its three-day existence.

It was painted last Thursday and Friday by an artist who goes by Jonas Never, who specializes in “topical” murals including recent works following the untimely deaths of chef Anthony Bourdain and musician Chester Bennington.

The mural, when it first went up, read “The King of LA,” which infuriated fans who took it as a slight to Kobe Bryant’s time as a Los Angeles Laker. In the early hours of Sunday morning, around 1 a.m., the restaurant’s security camera caught vandals graffitiing the phrases “We don’t want you,” “LeFraud,” “No King,” and “3-6” (a jab at James’ career NBA Finals record) over Never’s work.

Pictures of a cleaned-up mural hit the internet later Sunday, raising questions as to whether the vandalized image was perhaps doctored. However, the new images were missing one key component: the word “of” – but that also could have been edited electronically.

With computers having the powers they do in 2018, Yahoo Sports decided to go see the mural in-person to end the utter chaos:

The new mural at precisely 2:48 p.m. on Sunday, July 8. (Yahoo Sports)
The new mural at precisely 2:48 p.m. on Sunday, July 8. (Yahoo Sports)

“It was a last-minute thing,” restaurant manager Robb Aguirre told Yahoo Sports. “I think they added it when they completed the mural on Friday, and it seemed to create a big controversy. People can’t separate the fact that it was ‘King James’ as a nickname from the ‘LA.’ It was the artist’s decision.”

Aguirre added that the mural was intended as a welcome showing toward LeBron, but that ‘welcome’ just wouldn’t have fit. He confirmed that the “of” itself was not vandalized, but he wasn’t sure if the artist’s decision to remove it preceded Sunday’s graffiti.

So there you have it, Kobe fans. You can rest easy knowing that no one is coming for his title – at least not yet.

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