-- INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- It didn't take long for the circus-like atmosphere surrounding the Cleveland Cavaliers' season to see its focus centered on a pretty clown-like issue.
After video of a postgame handshake between Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love following the Cavs' 118-111 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday went viral because it seemed to include the pair pantomiming smoking a joint, Irving begrudgingly explained the celebration Wednesday.
"What's there to clear up?" Irving said when first asked about it. "That was an issue?"
Although Irving first claimed he "wasn't aware" of the video that made the rounds on the Internet during the Cavs' off day Tuesday, he eventually went on to offer an explanation in line with the reasoning provided by a Cavs spokesman that said Irving and Love were "quickly sharpening the end of an imaginary mustache."
"It's a simple twist of our mustaches," Irving said after practice Wednesday, clutching the unkempt whiskers above his upper lip as he spoke. "I guess Kevin's hand got a little wild there. But for us, it was literally just a twist of our mustaches. It's just a handshake that we do. We make a little noise afterwards."
The "noise" is the pair simultaneously saying the word "mousers" in a high-pitched voice, which Irving demonstrated for the media. He did not provide further explanation as to what the word represents, however.
"You know, that's it," Irving said. "That's it. It might be close to our lip, but it's just a little twist of our mustache. That's it. Does that clear it up?"
Cavs coach David Blatt seemed bemused by the attention, telling reporters after he finished his media session for the day without fielding a question on the subject: "No questions about 'Stachegate,' huh? I thought I was going to get 'Stachegate' questions!"
Irving said he and Love will continue to use the handshake. A Cavs spokesman said the players have been using some variation of the ritual since the team traveled to Brazil during the preseason but admitted the lone camera angle provided in the broadcast of the Cavs-Pelicans game on the team's regional sports network easily led to the players' intent being misconstrued.
"We're going to do it more now," Irving said with a smile. "This is an awesome handshake we're not going to change. Nothing illegal, nothing we're trying to get across. It's just a simple twist of our mustache right here, that's it."
There is apparently a third member of Irving's and Love's handshake crew, but Irving wouldn't divulge who that teammate is.
"It's just a handshake that me and Kev and one other teammate has," Irving said. "But I'm not going to throw him under the bus."