College basketball star smacks away hand of Morgan Freeman, scrambles to offer courtside apology

Not all celebrity slaps end with bad blood after one NCAA basketball player’s sidelines rebuff of a fan left him embarrassed at the Oscar-winners identity.

A Saturday night SEC matchup between the Auburn Tigers and Ole Miss Rebels included an unexpected encounter for 21-year-old Johni Broome. Late in what would be a 91-77 victory for the forward’s team, Academy Award-winning Mississippi fan Morgan Freeman’s contact with the player curried two candid responses.

As Broome backed toward the sideline, a photographer seated beside the actor could be seen reaching up seemingly to keep the player from bumping into the courtside spectators. Following suit, Freeman did the same, only he could be seen grabbing the baller’s jersey as well.

Feeling the tug as he stepped away, Broome instinctively batted the hand away only to readily recognize who it belonged to, adopting an apologetic posture.

Clips from The Field of 68 account on X showed the player return with less than two minutes left in the game to shake Freeman’s hand once more and offer yet another apology.

During the postgame press conference, Broome explained how he had experienced the exchange that, in the moment, he had believed was a run-of-the-mill fan causing some trouble for him.

“I thought it was an Ole Miss fan just like grabbing my jersey, like holding onto me,” he told reporters. “And I kind of just like got their hand off, but I saw who it was and like — you know I’m a big movie guy. I probably watched one of his movies on the plane coming here.”

“But I realized it was him and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m a big fan. I’m sorry.’ He said, ‘Just keep playing,'” recounted the Tiger.

Broome went on to describe the exchange when he returned to Freeman and said, “I’m just like, ‘I’m sorry, again.’ He said, ‘You all good. Just keep playing.’ You know, very good guy. Love him.”

Unlike the headline making slap heard ’round the world during the 94th Academy Awards ceremony in March 2022 when Will Smith had stormed the stage to crack comedian Chris Rock across the face after a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith, there appeared to be no hard feelings from Freeman.

Meanwhile, as Broome’s 15-point finish to the game included nine rebounds and seven assists, social media users riffed on the interaction, including a reference to one of the actor’s more popular roles courtesy of his iconic voice.

“When ‘god’ reaches out & touches you don’t knock his hand away….Praise the ‘Almighty'” said one user as another quipped in kind, “You can’t slap God/The President’s hand away.”

Still others questioned why the actor grabbed at Broome in the first place as Freeman had not appeared to have issued a statement at the time of this post.

Kevin Haggerty


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