Even Kyrie Irving needs help sometimes. After the East stole a 163-155 win over the West in this year’s NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans, the 21-year-old with two All-Star Games selections, one Rookie of the Year, one Three-Point Shootout win, one Rising Stars Challenge MVP and now one All-Star Game MVP wasn’t acting like he’d been here before. (Even though he could’ve.) He wasn’t campaigning for better Cleveland teammates. (Even though he should’ve.) He just needed a little help with the proper All-Star MVP pose.
“I honestly thought I did the interview first,” Irving said. “So some of the All-Star Games I watched before the MVPs usually did the interview and hold it up. But I guess I was wrong.”
Tonight, it might’ve been the only thing the Cleveland star didn’t do right. He torched the West’s defense for 31 points, 14 assists and five boards, donning the moves that made Uncle Drew so famous in the second half, turning Dwight Howard into a statue on an isolation, splitting the West defense and finding finishers with no-look passes, yo-yoing all over the court and setting Twitter ablaze. The NBA All-Star Game is a game of stars, but tonight, Irving’s message was clear: Among the greatest basketball players in the world, he was the best guard on the floor, and it wasn’t even close.
“Kyrie is special,” LeBron James said. “It’s just that simple.”
This is now the third straight year the Cavs best player has put his stamp on the league’s midseason classic, and even as the losses continue to pile up in Ohio, and even as the criticism reached new levels of absurdity this year, Irving’s ascent toward the game’s elite isn’t slowing. He played 34 minutes in the All-Star Game, more than anyone else besides Kevin Durant, perhaps more proof than any trophy that the respect is there, even from a head coach like Indiana’s Frank Vogel, whose first postgame comments were–half-jokingly… but not really–defense wins championships, not offensive highlights.
“For me I try not to get too high or too low,” Irving said. “It’s a great accomplishment, especially bringing this back to Cleveland. That’s the most important thing.
“But like I said, there’s so many different MVPs out there on that floor and to be named MVP amongst all those great stars is truly an honor. It’s a blessing. And I’m glad to bring it back to Cleveland.”
The questions about winning and the playoffs and Cleveland and defense can wait 24 hours. No one is winning a championship or making the playoffs on a clear-skied night in New Orleans in the middle of February. It’s only about the show… and tonight, Kyrie brought all of it.
Can Kyrie get the Cavs to the playoffs this year?
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