Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving may be walking away from Houston with the biggest grin on his face. Irving had a weekend to remember, and performed to his greatest ability each night. Whether it was the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge, Foot Locker Three-Point Contest or the Kia NBA All-Star Game, the former Duke Blue Devil elevated his game on one of the biggest weekends in the Association.
Throughout the three days, analysts were constantly commenting on the play of Irving and how he is the next star up. Many of the NBA’s best players already respect his game, and this dates back to the summer when he competed as a member of the USA Select Team – a practice squad that prepared Team USA for the Olympics.
If you want to see how ridiculous Kyrie made some of the best players in the world look during these practices, look no further:
Following up his MVP performance in the Rising Stars Challenge last year – he scored 34 points and shot 8-of-8 from three – Irving continued his dominance over the rookies and sophomores with a 32-point outburst. His handles, especially late in the game, garnered a lot of attention. This was mainly due to the fact that he broke Detroit Pistons point guard Brandon Knight’s ankles on a step-back jumper. If you didn’t get to see it, here it is:
Although Irving led Team Chuck to victory last season in his MVP performance, he couldn’t get the job done with Team Shaq. His squad, which consisted of teammates Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller, came up short in a 163-135 losing effort. Kenneth Faried, who rightfully deserved to win the MVP, finished with 40 points and 10 rebounds in leading his team to victory. Irving won’t have the chance to wow All-Star fans on Friday anymore, but his back-to-back performances will not be forgotten in writing his legacy.
To think that Irving’s performance in the Rising Stars Challenge was just a precursor to what he would do on Saturday and Sunday is crazy to even think about. How do you follow up breaking another player’s ankles with your crazy handles? Well, you win the Foot Locker Three-Point Contest for starters. After struggling in the team round with his first rack, Irving caught fire on the third rack and finished strong to lead the Eastern Conference team with 18 points.
Since Irving finished with the most points in the team round of the competition on his respective team, he would go head-to-head with the Western Conference’s highest scorer, Matt Bonner, in the final round of the Three-Point Contest. Kyrie went first for the Eastern Conference and went first again in the final round, making his first seven shots. He made all five balls on two of the five racks in the finale, finishing with 23 points. Bonner caught fire too late to finish ahead of the confident sophomore point guard.
Irving hoisted a trophy for the second All-Star weekend in a row, as he came away with a victory in the Three-Point Contest. Here is a video of his impressive performance:
All Irving had left to do was come off the bench in the All-Star Game and finish the weekend strong. Eastern Conference coach Erik Spoelstra elected to have Chris Bosh replace the injured Rajon Rondo as an All-Star starter. Instead of choosing another point guard to take Rondo’s spot, he decided to put all three of his stars together in the form of the All-Star starting roster.
Irving didn’t let that faze him, as he scored an applaud-able 15 points off the bench along with four assists and three rebounds. He also shot 6-of-11 from the field. Although his back-to-back threes in the fourth quarter almost helped the Eastern Conference to start a comeback, his most breath-taking play of the night came in the third quarter when he took the ball right down the lane and slammed it down with authority.
The Eastern Conference lost to the Western Conference 143-138 on Sunday, but Irving should be proud of what he accomplished this weekend. He will be in the national spotlight once again on Wednesday night because the Cavaliers have an ESPN televised game against the New Orleans Hornets.
Irving is starting to become a common name among the national scene, and it’s about time.