I know that things have been mostly rough for these past few decades, Cleveland fans, but seriously: please stop rushing the court from the stands at Quicken Loans Arena during Cleveland Cavaliers games. We understand that you are extraordinarily passionate. This is not the best way to communicate that passion.
This most recent incident took place just before the midway point of the fourth quarter of the Cavs' Friday night matchup with the Utah Jazz, with Cleveland evidently leading comfortably enough to lull everyone into a certain sense of security ... including, um, the Cavs' security:
With the Cavaliers preparing to inbound the ball after a dead-ball situation, a fan came racing out of the stands and made a bee-line for Cavaliers All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving. He reached out and appeared to grab Irving's hand, and was then promptly tackled to the floor by a hard-charging Cleveland police officer assigned to work security at the game. The young man was then laid face down, subdued by both the officer and arena security, handcuffed and escorted off the court.
Irving walked away, regarding the interruption with a smile and a shake of his head, and affecting the same sort of "hey, what are you going to do?" approach after the Cavs finished off a 99-79 win in which Irving notched the first triple-double of his NBA career, going for 21 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds in 38 1/2 minutes. From Jodie Valade of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
"He told me he loved me, I told him, 'I love you, too, bro,'" Irving said. "The police didn't think it was a joke. ... It goes back to the emotional and deep-rooted support the fans have for the team. It was a great honor, but to do it during the game ... maybe he could have waited until after the game?"
If Irving seemed like he wasn't particularly taken aback by the fan run-in, perhaps that's because it wasn't the first time that's happened to him this season — recall the fan in the "KYRIE DON'T LEAVE" T-shirt who found his way to the floor back in December. Or perhaps because it's the third time it's happened Quicken Loans Arena in the last 12 months — recall the fan in the "We Miss You"/"2014 Come Back" T-shirt who rolled up on LeBron James during a Miami Heat visit to the Q last March.
It would be unfair to categorize this as "just something that happens now" in Cleveland, considering how many home games don't feature a fan making his or her way from the seats down onto the playing surface. But it's very fair to characterize it as something that seems to happen way more frequently at Cavs games than it does anywhere else, which is — if I may be so bold — not a good thing.
I'd say that we can only hope that it doesn't take a legitimately violent outburst from a fan to force Dan Gilbert and company to more significantly ramp up their security measures, to dissuade potential court-rushers from emulating the bad behavior of others', and to have players like James and Irving more forcefully speak out against this kind of public display of affection. At this point, though, after three run-ins in less than a year, I worry that it's the only thing that will.
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