James, Smith and the rest of their colleagues were making their way to the tunnel at Oracle Arena when at least three supporters began fighting as they leaned over the metal barricades separating the stands from the court.
James appeared taken aback by the sudden eruption of activity, with Smith taking quick action of keep him out of harm’s way.
The Cavs' postgame court exit was interrupted by a fight between fans pic.twitter.com/BwrxtwFtnH— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) June 5, 2017
“It was close, too close,” Smith told USA TODAY Sports in the Cavaliers locker room afterwards. “Yeah, I pushed him. I wanted to be sure he was out of there. He is the prize jewel right there. It doesn’t matter if I get hurt. It matters if he gets hurt.”
Security hurriedly moved in to separate the men involved, as several Cavaliers players looked on and waited until things calmed down before entering the tunnel.
“I wouldn’t so much say it was scary,” Smith added. “I remember basketball games in the projects when I was growing up you see that kind of thing. But you don’t really want it happening here.”
A tweet posted by @warriorsworld, the social media handle of a popular Golden State Warriors blog of the same name, included a photograph of one of the men. It quoted the unnamed individual as saying that the scuffle started when a man from the exclusive courtside seats tried to encroach on the space of fans close to the railing.
“Told him to get behind me, he kept yapping and then it went down,” part of the quote read.
Oracle Arena security did not immediately respond to a request for comment.