Carmelo Anthony says he was momentarily shocked when he felt someone grasping at his thigh as he stood near the top of the key in the final minute of the New York Kicks' game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night.
When he saw it was a young boy who'd somehow slipped through courtside security in New Orleans to give him a hug, his instinct was to react with an affectionate pat on the head.
"It was a little kid," Anthony said when explaining his friendly response. "I was shocked. I didn't really know who was it until I actually looked over and saw that it was a kid."
The boy ran onto the court during a stoppage in play with the Knicks on their offensive end, then was shooed off the court by game official Kevin Cutler.
The chief of arena security at the Smoothie King Center, Russ Bourgeois, declined to comment on the incident. So it was not immediately clear if the boy or his guardian were cited in any way or removed from the building.
In New York City, the so-called "Calvin Klein Law" subjects those who walk onto the court during a game to arrest and fines. The law was passed in 2003 after fashion designer Calvin Klein walked onto the court at Madison Square Garden and attempted to chat with Knicks player Latrell Sprewell.
"I think it was because he was a little kid, they just let him go," Anthony said. "Definitely a security issue though, for sure."
The boy ran back into the stands and up stairs past an apparent female guardian, who, looking embarrassed, appeared to usher him toward the exits.