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Kyrie Irving + Dion Waiters

An All-Star 2014 Primer

February 14, 2014
by Joe Gabriele Beat Writer

For most people in the outside world, this weekend is about Valentine’s Day. But here in the Big Easy, this weekend is about one thing – the 2014 All-Star Game.

In this year’s midseason classic, the Wine and Gold have two representatives: Dion Waiters, who’ll make his second appearance in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge on Friday night and, of course, Kyrie Irving – who’ll defend his crown in the Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout on Saturday and will join LeBron James and Shawn Kemp as the only Cavaliers in team history to be voted in as an All-Star Game starter.

So whether you’re spending the weekend wooing your significant other or glued to the tube for All-Star festivities – (or a little of both) – here’s a quick primer on what to look for as ASW unfolds in New Orleans …

All-Star Ancestry – Before we move forward into the 63rd Annual All-Star Game, it’s important to know your Cavaliers history heading into the weekend.

The Wine and Gold have always done well during All-Star Weekend. Seventeen members of the Cavaliers have played in the actual All-Star Game. (Lenny Wilkens actually played on the East squad as a Cavalier in 1973 and coached the team in 1989.) This is Kyrie’s second appearance as an All-Star – joining Larry Nance, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Terrell Brandon and John Johnson, each who played in a pair of games. LeBron James made the squad six times, starting four games and winning MVP honors in 2009 and 2010. Brad Daugherty made five All-Star appearances and Mark Price made four.

Kyrie will be chasing Price in another area on Saturday night, trying to win the Three-Point Shootout in back-to-back seasons, something the sleepy-eyed second-rounder did in 1993 and 1994. (Price finished 5th in 1988 and 7th in 1990.) Other Cavaliers to participate in the Shootout include Craig Ehlo (5th, 1990 & 6th, 1992), Bob Sura (8th, 2000), Wesley Person (2nd, 2002), Damon Jones (5th, 2007) and Daniel Gibson (2nd, 2008 & 5th, 2011).

The Cavs haven’t fared well in the Slam Dunk Championship and haven’t even had a participant since 1997, when Bob Sura finished 5th. Ron Harper finished 5th in 1987 and 7th in 1989. Roy Hinson took 7th place back in 1986.

Kyrie participated in the Skills Challenge in 2012, finishing 6th. LeBron James finished 2nd in 2006 and 3rd in 2007 and Mo Williams finished 3rd in 2009.

The Rookie Challenge has seen plenty of Cavalier players throughout the years, including the 1998 game at Madison Square Garden that saw Cleveland send four participants – Cedric Henderson , Derek Anderson, Brevin Knight and Zydrunas Ilgauskas – who took MVP honors. Before that, Chris Mills (1994), Bob Sura (1996) and Vitaly Potapenko (1997) all participated. Cavaliers who played as both rookies and sophomores include Andre Miller, Carlos Boozer, LeBron James, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters and Irving.

Kyrie and Zydrunas Ilguaskas both won the MVP as rookies (although Z was in his second season, missing his entire rookie season with a foot injury). Daniel Gibson was named MVP as a sophomore in 2008.

Neon Dion – After being one of four Cavaliers participating in the Rising Stars Challenge last season, Dion Waiters stands as the lone selection this season.

An All-Rookie First Teamer one year ago, Waiters comes into the game as the top bench scorer in the Eastern Conference at 14.3 ppg. Last year in Houston, Waiters came off the bench to score 23 points for Team Shaq and, in a game filled with jaw-dropping dunks, might have turned in the best of the bunch, a between-the-legs dunk in transition.

This year, Waiters will play for Team Hill – selected by Grant Hill and coached by Nate McMillan. Waiters teammates on Friday night include Damian Lillard, Andre Drummond, Jonas Valanciunas, Miles Plumlee and Bradley Beal – who Dion usually relishes playing against.

Game time is 9 p.m. ET on TNT.

Comparing Prices – It’s commonly accepted that Mark Price has been the gold standard for Cavaliers point guards, but Kyrie Irving is coming fast. And on Saturday night, he looks to advance the argument when he goes for his second-straight title in the Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout.

One year ago in Houston, Kyrie finished with a solid 19-point effort in Round 1 – starting out slow and warming up as he went. He had just five points after his first two racks, but canned seven of his last 10 shots, sinking the final money ball to advance to Round 2 against Matt Bonner.

Once the Shootout advanced to the second round, however, those who’ve watched Kyrie in the clutch through his first season-and-a-half sensed that he would put it away. And it didn’t take him long to do just that.

In the final round, Kyrie missed just one of his first 18 shots and proceeded to close out the competition after that. Bonner did well, netting 20 points in his final round, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Wine and Gold’s prodigy from bringing his second All-Star trophy back to Cleveland.

This year, the competition is a little different with the field divided into Eastern and Western Conference teams. The highest scoring East and highest scoring West competitors from the First Round will advance to the Championship Round. Five shooting stations will be set up around the three-point line, with four game balls worth one point each and one money ball worth two points at each location. In this year's contest, each player will also be able to switch one of the five shooting locations to a full rack of five money balls, each of which will be worth two points.

Kyrie’s teammates in the East include Aaron Afflalo, Bradley Beal and Joe Johnson. The West squad consists of Marco Belinelli, Damian Lillard, Kevin Love and Stephen Curry.

TNT coverage of the State Farm All-Star Saturday Night begins at 8 pm ET.

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! – In his appearance at All-Star Weekend as a rookie in Orlando, Kyrie notched 34 points in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday night, participated in the Skills Challenge on Saturday and, by Sunday, was content to wander around Universal Studios with a trio of his hometown buddies.

As a sophomore, Irving became the sixth-youngest player to be named to the All-Star squad, joining four other first-timers for the Eastern Conference – New York’s Tyson Chandler, Chicago’s Joakim Noah, Indiana’s Paul George and Jrue Holiday of the Sixers.

In the game itself, Kyrie again represented the Wine and Gold well. In 25 minutes of action, the former Duke standout finished 6-of-11 from the floor, including 3-of-6 from beyond the arc for 15 points – adding four assists and three boards, albeit in a 143-138 loss to the West.

Now in his third season in the NBA, the Cavaliers point guard is a bona fide star, validated by the 860.221 votes he received to start in the 2014 All-Star Game on Sunday night. Irving comes in with all the pertinent numbers: he’s the leading scorer among point guards in the East, has scored 20-plus points in 14 of Cleveland’s 17 games heading into the break, has the Cavaliers’ top five scoring games of the season and – maybe most importantly to Cavalier fans – has his team riding a four-game win streak into the NBA’s biggest weekend.

The East’s other four starters, voted by the fans, were LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. Rounding out the East squad is Joakim Noah, Roy Hibbert, Chris Bosh, Paul Milsap, John Wall, Joe Johnson and DeMar DeRozan.

Kyrie and the rest of the Eastern Conference All-Stars take the floor on Sunday night at 8 pm ET. Catch all the action on TNT.

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