Kyrie Comfortable Among the Stars
There’s no doubt that Kyrie Irving is a quick-study.
He mastered All-Star Friday Night one season ago, taking home MVP honors of the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge in Orlando. As a sophomore, he conquered Saturday Night, putting on a near-record-setting performance in winning the Three-Point Shootout.
So he can be forgiven for deferring to the league’s other stars at the 62nd NBA All-Star Game on Sunday night in Houston.
But Irving was definitely a factor in the midseason classic – starting the second half for the Eastern Conference squad, netting eight of his 15 points after intermission, albeit in a 143-138 loss to the West.
It was a full weekend for the former Blue Devil, who scored 32 points in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday, won the Shootout one night later and suited up for the big show on Sunday.
“I felt good as soon as I got out there in the first half; in the second half, my legs started to catch up to me,” admitted Irving. “But it was the best experience of my life so far.”
Since entering the NBA a season-and-a-half ago, there hasn’t been a stage built that’s been too big for him and that was the case again on Sunday evening in south Texas. But Cleveland’s stellar sophomore was still in a little bit of awe among the best of the NBA’s best.
“When you're looking to your left and right, you see CP3 and Bron and Melo,” said Irving. “You don't get a chance to play with these guys during the year. It was definitely a surreal experience.”
Top honors in the game itself went to L.A.’s Chris Paul, who finished with 20 points, 15 assists and four steals. The contest came down to the final minutes and, as usual, got more competitive at that point. Despite a late flurry, led by Indiana’s Paul George, the West was able to pull away – highlighted by the defensive play of the night: Kobe Bryant blocking LeBron James’ three-point attempt that led to a Blake Griffin dunk on the other end.
Kyrie got off to a good start, crossing over Tony Parker and scoring on a layup for the first All-Star bucket of his already-eventual career. Early in the second period, Irving split the West defense and threw down a rare dunk to get the East back to within six.
In the fourth quarter – naturally – Kyrie started heating up, drilling two straight treys to cut the West’s seven-point lead to just one with 7:35 to play. He scored his final points on a layup with just over five minutes remaining.
Along with his 15-point effort, Irving added four assists and three steals.
But not everything was perfect for the Cavaliers young point guard in Houston.
When asked if there were any surprises in Sunday’s game, Kyrie responded: “Not really. The ball was terrible, though. They need to definitely change that. It was too new, (which is) one of the most terrible feelings for a player.”
With three of the four Cavalier All-Star representatives already back home preparing for the second half, Kyrie returns to the North Coast where the beat goes on. The Wine and Gold face off against the Hornets on Wednesday after completing the team’s most successful stretch since Irving arrived.
The young gun admitted that he didn’t get much sleep over the “Break” and that he’s a little relieved that it’s all over.
“I'm tired right now, but being around all those great players and being in every event was definitely an experience of a lifetime,” concluded Kyrie. “And I'm looking forward if I'm elected next year.”
Irving wrapped up by telling the collective media that he’s “ready to get back home to Cleveland and get back to work.”
He can expect a hero’s welcome at The Q when he does.