The NBA All-Star weekend is highlighted every year by the individual stardom around the league. Players like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, and many more take center stage in the glorified pickup game on Sunday night. The young and future stars of the game usually shine during the first two days of the weekend, which include the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday night and the skills competitions on Saturday night.
One rising star in particular proved that he belongs in the same conversation with those guys mentioned above, and that’s Kyrie Irving. The 20-year-old starting point guard for the Cleveland Cavaliers put all of his talents on display during this All-Star weekend in Houston.
It all started on Friday night in the Rising Stars Challenge, which Irving entered as the reigning MVP from the year before. In a game filled with highlights Irving provided basketball fans everywhere with a YouTube clip that will be watched a thousand more times today. (OH NO! OH NO! Brandon Knight.)
That crossover will stick with Knight forever, just type in his name on YouTube. Irving finished the game with 32 points, six assists, and five rebounds. He just looked more experienced and more talented than his opponents. However, Irving came out on the losing end this year playing for Team Shaq, so Kenneth Faried took home the MVP honors, finishing with 40 points and 10 rebounds for Team Chuck.
Basketball fans got to see more of Irving on Saturday night, when he participated in the three-point contest. It was another dominating performance from Irving. He entered the final round of the competition against Matt Bonner of the San Antonio Spurs, who is known strictly for his three-point shooting ability.
Irving missed just one shot through the first three racks (18 shots) in the final round, eventually cooling off and finishing with a score of 23. That score was enough to defeat Bonner and crown Irving the three-point contest champion.
So it was already an accomplished weekend for the 20-year-old, but he still had to compete in his first career All-Star game on Sunday night.
Irving was selected as an eastern conference All-Star reserve, averaging 23.5 points and 5.5 assists per game this season. The eastern conference coach Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat chose to start one of his own Chris Bosh to replace the Boston Celtics injured Rajon Rondo in the starting lineup. A lot of basketball minds thought that Irving was the most deserving player for that spot, especially now after Bosh’s poor performance.
Just like any other NBA All-Star game there was little defense being played throughout the game. Irving played with the reserves for most of the first half, but that changed after halftime. He started the second half at point guard and looked as if he belonged. The game became very tight down the stretch and Irving was kept in during the final minutes of the game.
He was playing alongside of LeBron and Carmelo Anthony, and against Kobe and CP3. It was becoming realistic that Irving at least belongs on the same court with these guys. He finished the game with 15 points, four assists, and three rebounds in 25 minutes. The western conference ended up winning the game 143-138.
Irving is quickly proving that he belongs in the same conversation with the league’s biggest stars, especially after his eventful and unforgettable performances during this All-Star weekend.
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