LeBron James says his emotional reaction to the death of Gregg Popovich's wife came "straight from the heart" but clarified that he was not blindsided by the news on live television.
The San Antonio Spurs announced the passing of coach Popovich's wife Erin on Wednesday, leading to an outpouring of tributes around the NBA.
And Cleveland Cavaliers star James - with whom Popovich has long shared a mutual respect - was asked for his reaction following his team's 100-97 defeat of the Indiana Pacers.
Tearing up and appearing surprised as he took a moment to gather his thoughts, James told TNT: "Obviously, I'm a huge Pop fan. I love Pop. That's such a tragedy.
"My best wishes goes out to Pop and his family. That's devastating news. It's a lot. The NBA family, we all stick together. I know we compete every night, but when something like this happens it puts everything in perspective.
"I send my well wishes and my prayers up to the heavens above. I know the man above never makes a mistake even when you sometimes have to ask why.
"That's just terrible news. Best of luck to Pop, everybody in San Antonio, the whole Spurs family. That's all I can say."
Coach Popovich - I join the NBA family and countless fans across the country who are thinking of you, Jill, and Micky tonight as you mourn the loss of your Erin.— Bill Clinton (@BillClinton) April 19, 2018
But James later clarified that the question, from TNT's Allie LaForce, did not catch him off guard as had been suggested on social media, with the reporter warning him beforehand of the news that broke during the game.
"I'm not on social media right now, but I was made aware through some friends, through texts, that a question was asked to me post-game and a lot of people feel like I was blindsided," James said in a video posted on Uninterrupted's Twitter page.
"That is absolutely false. Allie LaForce told me that she was going to ask me the question and [asked] if it was okay.
"That was just my emotions coming straight from my heart about the late Erin Popovich. It's unfortunate, it's a tragic loss. My thoughts, my prayers once again go out to the Popovich family, to Gregg, to the Spurs family, to the whole Spurs fan base.
"Also, guys, please get off Allie LaForce's back, because she followed the proper protocol and she warned me. Get off her back, man. She's very professional and she does a great job at her work."
|Odell Beckham Jr. needs to create headlines on the field, says Giants owner|
|Draymond Green says Warriors will have to ´bring it´ every night in the West|
|Rodgers inspires late Packers comeback|
|Brewers blank Dodgers to take 2-1 NLCS lead|
|Cavaliers, Nance agree to four-year extension|
|Suns star Booker set to return for season opener|
|Warriors coach Kerr not expecting fast start from NBA champs|
|Fultz to start for 76ers as Brown eyes NBA Finals|
|Seahawks, Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen dies aged 65|
|Red Sox ace Sale released from hospital, still set for game five|
|Beer-throwing fan banned by Patriots|
|NBA 2018-19: Five non-LeBron James storylines to follow|
|Buccaneers fire defensive coordinator Mike Smith after loss to Falcons|
|NBA 2018-19: Eastern Conference predictions|
|NBA 2018-19: Five rookies to watch|
|NBA 2018-19: Western Conference predictions|
|NBA 2018-19: LeBron the Laker - what it means|
|NBA 2018-19: It´s a big season for - Ball, Kawhi, Carmelo, Love & Cousins|
|NBA 2018-19: LeBron closing in on Jordan, Curry chasing Miller and Allen|
|LeBron and Irving did not fall out, says ex-Cavs trainer|
|Mahomes: Chiefs need to win like Brady and the Patriots|
|Pats hand first loss to Chiefs after wild shoot-out|
|Cowboys, Ravens dominate as Pats beat Chiefs in NFL classic|
|Brady becomes first QB to 200 regular-season wins in NFL|
|Red Sox level series against Astros|
|Red Sox ace Sale admitted to hospital with stomach illness|
|From UFC to NFL? McGregor throws pass for Cowboys|
|Gurley dominates to help Rams beat Broncos|
|Butler expected to play Timberwolves´ opener against Spurs|
|Dolphins defeat Bears in OT with 47-yard field goal|
|Seahawks top Raiders with blowout win in London|
|Evans becomes Buccaneers´ all-time leading receiver|
|Steelers´ Shazier returns to Bengals´ stadium for first time since injury|
|FIBA secretary general Patrick Baumann dies, aged 51|
|NBA veteran Jefferson announces retirement|
|Astros win ALCS opener against Red Sox|
|Lakers? Knicks? Durant will probably stay at Warriors – Nash|
|LeBron will ´elevate´ Lakers, says Nash|
|Turner helps Dodgers level series with Brewers|
|Rams´ Cooks, Kupp clear concussion protocol|
|Knicks waive center Noah|
|Thompson confident Cavaliers are still ´a playoff team´ without LeBron James|
|Brewers trump Dodgers in NLCS opener|
|LeBron and Durant? I´m the NBA´s best – Davis|
|Dolphins QB Tannehill unexpectedly listed questionable for Bears game|
|I know I can play better – struggling Giants QB Manning|
|San Francisco 49ers apologise for omitting Kaepernick from photo gallery|
|Browns owner hopeful of keeping Crew in Columbus|
|White set for six weeks out in latest Spurs injury blow|
|Stevens to limit Hayward´s early minutes for Celtics|
|Butler misses Timberwolves´ final preseason game as Garnett fumes|
|Flowers lands with Jaguars after Giants release|
|Yankees suffer blow as Gregorius to undergo surgery|
|Nowitzki to miss Mavericks opener|
|Thompson: United States team with five Warriors ´would be awesome´|
|Odell Beckham Jr. headbutted air-conditioning unit ´to get fired up´|
|Eagles soar as Wentz helps down Giants|
|Green expected to play against Lakers in Warriors´ final preseason game|
|Edelman thinks Gordon ´can be a really big piece´ for Patriots|
|Colin Kaepernick receives W.E.B. Du Bois Medal from Harvard|
|Rodgers wants to stay away from large knee brace|
|Predators forward Watson´s suspension reduced to 18 games|
|Thunder star Westbrook still not cleared for full contact|
|Lonzo having a Ball with ´big brother´ LeBron James|
|Irving calls trade demand ´best move´ for his career|
|Michael Jordan mentor Fred ´Tex´ Winter dies at 96|
|WATCH: LeBron James nails half-court buzzer-beater against Warriors|
|It sucks – Simmons discusses LeBron´s move to Lakers|
|Astros SS Carlos Correa still dealing with back pain: ‘I know every time I swing and miss it’s going|
|I was fired up – Timberwolves´ Butler explains heated practice session|