Security guards tackled and handcuffed a fan who ran onto the court and touched Cavaliers All-Star guard Kyrie Irving during Cleveland's 99-79 victory over Utah at Quicken Loans Arena on Friday night.
This is the second time a fan has approached Irving on the court this season and the third time in less than a year that there has been a fan incident at the Quicken Loans Arena.
The Plain Dealer reported Irving's post-game reaction to this latest incident.
"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?"
Back in December, a fan walked up to Irving during a game against the Clippers in an apparent attempt to get him to look at his “Kyrie, Don’t Leave” t-shirt.
Irving, 21, is in the third year of his rookie contract and the Cavaliers have picked up his team option for the 2014-15 season. A recent ESPN.com report indicated that Irving might not be totally happy in Cleveland, where the Cavaliers are on track to miss the playoffs for the fourth straight year.
This summer, the Cavaliers will be able to offer Irving a contract extension that could last as long as five years. If they can’t agree on a deal, Irving would proceed toward restricted free agency in 2015, and Cleveland would have matching rights on any offers made to Irving. The earliest Irving could leave the Cavaliers as an unrestricted free agent is 2016, which would require him to accept a one-year qualifying offer for the 2015-16 season rather than sign an extension or agree to an offer in restricted free agency. Such a decision is essentially unprecedented for a player of Irving’s caliber.
During a March 2013 game between the Cavaliers and Heat at Quicken Loans Arena, a fan approached four-time MVP LeBron James, who left the Cavaliers for the Heat in 2010, to urge him to return to Cleveland. That fan appeared to touch James before he headed out near the three-point line, where he displayed a shirt that read “We Miss You” on the front and “2014 Come Back” on the back, before he was eventually bear-hugged by a security officer and escorted off the court without further incident.
Irving registered the first triple-double of his three-year career on Friday, tallying a game-high 21 points (on 7-for-16 shooting), 12 assists and 10 rebounds in 39 minutes. Tristan Thompson added 18 points and 14 rebounds for Cleveland.
Gordon Hayward led the Jazz with 18 points (on 6-for-13 shooting), seven rebounds and seven assists. Richard Jefferson added 13 points (on 4-for-9 shooting) and four rebounds in a losing effort.
Cleveland improved to 24-36 with the win. Utah dropped to 21-37 with the loss.