Cleveland Cavaliers star Kyrie Irving and Detroit Pistons second-year guard Brandon Knight turned the 2013 Rising Stars Challenge into their own personal Rucker Park-style playground, sending TV announcer Chris Webber to a momentary hysteria.
With the game well in hand and his team a bit listless, Irving — last year’s NBA Rookie of the Year and MVP of the 2012 Rising Stars game — entertained the fans with an array of dizzying moves in the final five minutes. One move was so devastating that Knight lost his balance and fell to the ground. After knocking down the jumper in front of the fallen Knight, Irving (who had 32 points) jogged back down the court with his finger to his mouth, hushing the excited crowd in Houston. Webber couldn’t contain himself.
“Oh no! Oh no! Oh no! Oh no! There is nothing [better] you can do in an All-Star game than to cross someone over, make them fall, then hit the jump shot,” said Webber, who took part in the first Rising Stars game in 1994.
“Show me something. I’m sorry, I forgot I was working. I’m a fan right now,” Webber added. “That’s right kids at home. You can look at this and love it.”
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The 2013 NBA All-Star Weekend — easily the best all-star showcase among all the North American pro sports leagues — officially tipped off Friday with the Rising Stars Challenge, featuring rookies and second-year players selected by Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley.
The game was blowout from start to finish, as Team Chuck jumped out quickly with a barrage of threes and a nearly perfect night from Kenneth Faried. The Denver Nuggets power forward made 18 of 22 shots from the field en route to a game-high 40 points to lead Team Chuck to a convincing 163-135 win. He also added 10 rebounds to claim MVP honors.