Houston, we have lift-off: Kyrie Irving steals All-Star weekend
Every year, the NBA brings together their stars, young and old, for their annual weekend celebration. But to everyone who was watching, one thing was readily apparent: Kyrie Irving hi-jacked the weekend.
All-Star weekend kicked off Friday night with the BBVA Rising Stars, where four Cavs represented Cleveland in the game. The roster was composed of the top-nine rookie and sophomore players, as selected by assistant coaches across the league.
Sophomore forward Tristan Thompson played a pivotal role on Team Chuck, contributing 20 points (9-10 fg) and 10 rebounds in a 163-135 victory over Team Shaq, who his three teammates played for. Dion Waiters looked impressive in the loss, connecting on 11 of his 12 shot attempts en route to 23 points. Fellow rookie Tyler Zeller also appeared, scoring a mere 3 points.
Kenneth Faried of the Detroit Pistons was named the MVP for his team’s win, scoring most of his game-high 40 points on uncontested lay-ups and dunks in transition. But all anyone was talking about was Kyrie Irving.
Irving, who won the MVP in the 2012 game, scored nearly a quarter of his team’s points, racking up 32 points, 6 assists & 5 rebounds. Kyrie connected on multiple 3’s and blew past opposing PG’s at will, including a video that has already gone viral of Kyrie crossing-over Detroit’s Brandon Knight so badly, that the Piston crashed to the floor in pursuit of the young Cavs player.
This performance, however, was just Kyrie’s opening act.
The Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout was Saturday night, with Irving slated to compete in his first competition against seven of the league’ best shooters. Kyrie stood out immediately, knocking down 18 points in the first round to qualify for the finals.
In the finals. Kyrie turned it up a notch, connecting on his first seven shots, and 14 of his first 15 en route to 23 points (2 shy of the all-time record) and the title.
“I feel like I was the darkhorse in this competition,” he said after the event. “I just wanted to go out and prove a point. That I was one of the premier shooters out there with all of those guys.”
Behind the scenes, he was interviewed by Cavs special reporter and teammate Tristan Thompson, who asked him what preparation he did for the event:
“Didn’t take any advice from Coach (Byron) Scott, a 3rd place winner,” Irving joked, before holding up his trophy. “And Coach, as you can see, 1st place winner.”
Kyrie still had one more chapter to his weekend, being one of only seven players ever to be selected to compete in the All-Star game prior to their 21st birthday.
On Sunday night, in a losing effort, Kyrie showed he was ready to share a stage with the LeBron James and Kevin Durant’s of the league, scoring 15 points and adding 4 assists and 3 rebounds. He was even promoted to starter in the second half, as Miami Coach Erik Spoelstra benched his own player (Chris Bosh) to play Kyrie more.
“Being there with all those guys. It was an amazing feeling. Especially hearing my name called out there and walking out,” Kyrie said Monday morning, adding: “It’s all about putting Cleveland back on the map.”
As everyone in Houston (and the world) saw, not only is Cleveland back on the map, but Kyrie’s own career has just sky-rocketed.