How one LeBron James tweet led fans to a sad day in the L.A. sun

CULVER CITY, Calif. – There was no question that he would come — to Los Angeles, to the Lakers or to a Blaze Pizza franchise in Culver City. For fans of LeBron James, there was never any doubt.

Well, until the clock hit 5 p.m. Tuesday, ending the frenzy that James himself fostered.

The four-time MVP owns a 10 percent stake in Blaze Pizza, a nationwide pizza joint. On Monday night, he hinted via Twitter that he might make an appearance at the franchise in Culver City. So franchise owner Tom Cook knew that this particular spot, rather than one of the other 10 he owns, would require special attention.

“I was floored [when I saw the tweet], just like everybody else,” Cook told Yahoo Sports before the three-hour window in which James might arrive. “We have no confirmation if he’s actually coming or not. We’ll find out probably shortly beforehand, and not much longer than that.”

Cook said the franchise’s biggest production day is usually March 14, otherwise known as Pi Day, when the business offers $3.14 pies all day long. His crew prepped for Tuesday’s three-hour window in a similar manner, with triple the usual staff.

13 PHOTOS
Stars react to LeBron James joining the Lakers
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Stars react to LeBron James joining the Lakers
Ok got him leaving the basketball jersey embroidery shop. This is downtown LA https://t.co/fMhrjFJKgz
Welcome, @KingJames. https://t.co/Gy7JywiUwu
Honestly, this LeBron news is the best birthday present my husband could have possibly gotten.
Welcome to the family @KingJames #lakers4life #striveforgreatness @JeanieBuss @MagicJohnson and RP well done!!! 🙌🏾
Welcome to the Lake Show @KingJames! Rock that purple and gold - looking forward to a great season.
Welcome to LA, Mr. James. @KingJames @Lakers
Welcome home @KingJames 🥊 https://t.co/sq6NrloqXu
Ummmmm. Greatest news ever? #Lakers #NBA #TeamTouch https://t.co/PE11XP6Ke4
There is a God! Must be Magic! #happydaysarehereagain https://t.co/HUC9QIzzle
Congratulations to the Boston Celtics next years eastern conference champions.
We proudly welcome the Lake-Show to the Kingdom.👑 https://t.co/nvWbYfG4kx
Me and @KingJames walking into LA. https://t.co/S2gYfOxwuz
I am sure the Lakernation is rejoicing The acquisition of LeBron James means that the Lakers are just a smidgen awa… https://t.co/4tqUHmjmDa
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Of the hundreds that were in line before 2 p.m., Janet Raines was the first. She arrived with a folding chair at 7:30 a.m.

“We’re still keeping the faith whether he will actually show up,” she said. “I would like for him to make me a pizza.” Her reaction when LeBron signed, and was coming to dig her team out of a five-year rut? “Just relief, actually. Definite relief — excitement of him being a part of the team moving forward. I know he’s really involved in the communities where he lives, so I’m excited for that as well.”

Ryan Andrus, a young man about 20th in line, arrived at 11:30 a.m. Like Raines, he was as adamant James would sign with the Lakers as he was that James would turn up to the pizza party.

“He’s gonna show,” Andrus said. “He wouldn’t post something like that and not show up. I mean, look at all these people. He’s gonna be here. It shows that he cares and that he wants to bring a bunch of people together.”

Shopping center security guard Andrew Porter received a call on his way to work from a friend. The friend told him James was showing up at 4114 Sepulveda Boulevard. Porter, a Los Angeles native, was hoping to see James.

But regardless, he was happy for the reprieve from his daily routine.

“This will actually make my day, because we don’t get excitement like this in Culver City — let alone King James,” Andrew said. “It’s not something you can really plan for, since it was last-minute. For me, it’s all hands on deck. You feed off the energy of everybody here. It’s a positive crowd. Makes your day go by good.”

“He is LeBron James, so I won’t hold it against him,” Andrew added. “I’m sure he’s making every effort he can to get here and see this crowd that’s waiting for him.”

Chris Haynes, a FedEx delivery man, was thankful not to be working a desk job (take it up with LeBron if your delivery was late thanks to his extended lunch break). He arrived around 2 p.m. when the pizza party began, as did hundreds of others.

They walked, biked, and drove. They pushed their babies in carriages.

“F— a pizza,” said Austin Ehrlich, who like many just wanted a selfie. “I’m here for LeBron.”

By 4 p.m., though, the smiles faded. James had not shown up, and morale was low. As the clock ticked toward 5 p.m., fans began to reassess why they had spent an “embarrassing” number of hours in the 90-degree heat.

“Do we care this much?” asked a group that took off work for the pizza party. “Do we really care this much?”

It’s Los Angeles. It’s LeBron James. Of course they did.

36 PHOTOS
NBA players who changed teams this offseason
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NBA players who changed teams this offseason

DeAndre Jordan

Old team: Los Angeles Clippers

New team: Dallas Mavericks

(Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)

Austin Rivers

Old team: Los Angeles Clippers

New team: Washington Wizards

(Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images)

Marcin Gortat

Old team: Washington Wizards

New team: Los Angeles Clippers

(Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

LeBron James

Old team: Cleveland Cavaliers

New team: Los Angeles Lakers

(Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

Omri Casspi

Old team: Golden State Warriors

New team: Memphis Grizzlies

(Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

Trevor Ariza

Old team: Houston Rockets

New team: Phoenix Suns

(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

Nik Stauskas

Old team: Brooklyn Nets

New team: Portland Trail Blazers

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Lance Stephenson

Old team: Indiana Pacers

New team: Los Angeles Lakers

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Javale McGee

Old team: Golden State Warriors

New team: Los Angeles Lakers

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Doug McDermott

Old team: Dallas Mavericks

New team: Indiana Pacers

(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

Ed Davis

Old team: Portland Trail Blazers

New team: Brooklyn Nets

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Mario Hezonja

Old team: Orlando Magic

New team: New York Knicks

(Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)

Rajon Rondo

Old team: New Orleans Pelicans

New team: Los Angeles Lakers

(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

Jose Calderon

Old team: Cleveland Cavaliers

New team: Detroit Pistons

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

DeMarcus Cousins

Old team: New Orleans Pelicans

New team: Golden State Warriors

(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Julius Randle

Old team: Los Angeles Lakers

New team: New Orleans Pelicans

(Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)

Jeff Green

Old team: Cleveland Cavaliers

New team: Washington Wizards

Photo by Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Tyreke Evans

Old team: Memphis Grizzlies

New team: Indiana Pacers

Photo by Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Wilson Chandler

Old team: Denver Nuggets

New team: Philadelphia 76ers

(Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

Dwight Howard

Old team: Charlotte Hornets

New team: Washington Wizards

(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Tony Parker

Old team: San Antonio Spurs

New team: Charlotte Hornets

(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Seth Curry

Old team: Dallas Mavericks

New team: Portland Trail Blazers

(Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)

Jonas Jerebko

Old team: Utah Jazz

New team: Golden State Warriors

(Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images)

Isaiah Thomas

Old team: Los Angeles Lakers

New team: Denver Nuggets

(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)

Jeremy Lin

Old team: Brooklyn Nets

New team: Atlanta Hawks

(Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

Kyle Anderson

Old team: San Antonio Spurs

New team: Memphis Grizzlies

(Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)

Kenneth Faried

Old team: Denver Nuggets

New team: Brooklyn Nets

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Garrett Temple

Old team: Sacramento Kings

New team: Memphis Grizzlies

(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

Ben McLemore

Old team: Memphis Grizzlies

New team: Sacramento Kings

(Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

Demar DeRozan

Old team: Toronto Raptors

New team: San Antonio Spurs

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Jakob Poeltl

Old team: Toronto Raptors

New team: San Antonio Spurs

(Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Kawhi Leonard

Old team: San Antonio Spurs

New team: Toronto Raptors

(Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)

Dennis Schroder

Old team: Atlanta Hawks

New team: Oklahoma City Thunder

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Mike Muscala

Old team: Atlanta Hawks

New team: Philadelphia 76ers

(Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images)

Carmelo Anthony

Old team: Oklahoma City Thunder

New team: ???

(Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

Jared Dudley

Old team: Phoenix Suns

New team: Brooklyn Nets

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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