The Miami Heat pulled off a spectacular comeback victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday to extend their winning streak to 24 games, but the bizzare circumstances of the game pushed talk of the streak and even LeBron James' triple-double to the background.
During live action in the fourth quarter, a fan ran onto the floor wearing a customized shirt that said "We Miss You, 2014 Come Back" and brushed past LeBron before play stopped and a security guard apprehended the interloper.
The Heat rallied to overcome a 27-point deficit and became just the sixth team in 2,019 such games over the last 15 years to come back from 27+ points in the second half. Yet after the game, the talk shifted to how players felt about the fan sneaking onto the floor. Via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:
"I didn't see him," James said when asked of his immediate reaction. "I didn't know what was going on."He said he missed me and, 'Come back please,' and I didn't have much time to say much to him because security got to him," James said.
James said at no point did he feel threatened.
"They have metal detectors here," James said of his homecourt for his first seven NBA seasons, "so I knew I was OK.''
Chris Bosh was understandably shaken by the event:
I asked Chris Bosh about guy running on court: "I never saw him coming until he ran by our bench. It was pretty scary, actually."— Brendan Bowers (@BowersCLE) March 21, 2013
Although the identity of the fan has not been officially confirmed, reports suggest that his name is James Blair. The Twitter account for Blair was active last night, and the level of detail in the messages certainly suggests that he was the person who stormed onto the court. Via Sports Illustrated's Extra Mustard:
@mikeferg15 Im wearin lbj jersey, red/black 9s bringing my white hot playoff towel & a special shirt im making for surprise festivities lol— James Blair ▲ (@jamesblair06) March 20, 2013
@cimmy55 they got 5 cops but we will see lol— James Blair ▲ (@jamesblair06) March 20, 2013
@itscopeland they got 5 cops at end of my row but we will see lol— James Blair ▲ (@jamesblair06) March 20, 2013
Then after the strange events unfolded on the court, tweets started rolling in that identified the misguided fan as Blair:
The breakdown in security didn't result in any serious danger, but the potential for danger was huge in that situation. Blair describes himself as the "Biggest @KingJames fan ever!!" in his Twitter profile, and it appears he merely wanted to deliver a soft message about re-signing with the Cavaliers when the 2014 free agency period comes around. However, many fans in the Cleveland area harbor resentment toward LBJ -- recall the jersey-burning incidents in the wake of The Decision -- and the staff at Quicken Loans Arena had to be on high alert on such an emotionally charged night.
It may be impossible to prevent all such events if fans are willing to act irrationally and risk huge fines for storming the court, but it will be interesting to see how the NBA and the Cavaliers deal with this issue.