Kyrie Irving Steals NBA All-Star Spotlight; Why Doesn't Cleveland Embrace Him?
For three straight nights this past weekend, Kyrie Irving put on a full display of his greatness for all NBA fans to see. What Cleveland Cavaliers fans have had the joy and privilege of watching for the past season and a half was shared with the world at large.
Kyrie's magical weekend started Friday night in the Rising Stars game where he put on an impressive performance with 32 points, six rebounds and six assists. Even though he didn't win game MVP honors and even though Team Shaq lost by almost 30 points, all anyone was talking about after the game was the ankle-breaker that Kyrie put on Brandon Knight.
That single play basically encapsulates the "rivalry" between Irving and Knight. It's blatantly obvious that Knight puts his game into an extra gear every time he's on the court with Kyrie, perhaps in an effort to show that he's the best of the point guards who came out of the 2011 NBA draft.
But as hard as Knight tries, and he does try very hard, he has no chance of comparing with Kyrie and his elevated efforts only leave him falling to floor making a fool out of himself. It's a rivalry in theory only, not substance.
On Saturday night, Kyrie got a chance to atone for his poor performance in the skills challenge last year by competing in the three-point competition this time. After squeaking by in the first round with only 18 points, Kyrie saved his best for the finals.
Kyrie coolly cleaned the first rack from the left corner and continued from there. You could hear the crowd steadily get more excited with each shot. By the time he had cleaned the third rack, much of the arena was on its feet. It was an electrifying performance that got LeBron James out of his seat and animatedly into the gravity of the performance, cheering on his young friend. (Kenny Smith joked that LeBron was thinking "Man! I should have stayed in Cleveland.") Simply put, Kyrie just got buckets. Matt Bonner and his mustache didn't really ever have a chance.
That left only the the main event on Sunday for Kyrie to cement his stamp on the weekend.
Kyrie didn't have the most incredible All-Star game but did have several highlight plays including this sick move to split a double-team en route to a rare dunk. His performance in the game (15 points, three rebounds, four assists) and the weekend as a whole had TNT commentators Steve Kerr and Reggie Miller gushing about Kyrie saying that he already is the most skilled point guard in the NBA and that he has limitless potential.
No one had a better weekend than Kyrie Irving. His weekend was basically the antithesis of the super depressing end to the Downton Abbey season finale.
And the fact that no one had a worse night than Chris Bosh on Sunday made it all just a little bit sweeter.
The entire NBA world is still abuzz about Kyrie Irving. In their NBA Shootaround blog on Monday morning, Grantland.com had multiple writers who penned glowing words about Irving. Highlights from the post include Brett Koremenos suggesting that the NBA create a new All-Star event simply called "Kyrie makes dudes look foolish" and Robert Mays placing Kyrie alongside Chris Paul as the top two point guards in the league.
The general feeling from many of those who cover the NBA is that Kyrie is on the verge of taking over the NBA.
His rise has been so dynamic and so powerful that it has really ratcheted up the rumors of LeBron returning to Cleveland. And if LeBron keeps saying things like "it was awesome to play with Kyrie," calling him "unbelievable" and remarking that "What he’s doing right now, and what he’s going to do in the future, it’s going to be crazy" those rumors will only continue to intensify over the next 16 months.
So if the entire league and fans all around are so enamored by the incredible ability of Kyrie Irving, why does it seem like the city of Cleveland is hardly noticing?
I realize that they haven't won as many games as people would like and the team is very young and can be quite frustrating at times. But you should tune in to the Cavs for the sole purpose of watching Kyrie if nothing else.
Kyrie is far and away the preeminent star in the city of Cleveland and it's not even close. The Browns and the Indians don't have anyone who could even come close to rivaling just how great Kyrie is at what he does. Sorry, Phil Dawson fans, not even ole' Phil is in the same stratosphere as No. 2 in the Wine and Gold.
Is the city afraid to embrace another NBA star after getting spurned by the last one? Is it just that he's on the Cavs, the third team in town (and fourth if you count Ohio State football)?
If Kyrie played QB for the Browns I guarantee fans would be pouring into the stadium to watch him. So then why not pour into the Q?
In Cleveland we have been ultra privileged to have two of the best players to enter the NBA over the past decade play in our city. It's even conceivable that LeBron and Kyrie might be the two best. Why aren't we all enjoying it then?
If you aren't watching the Cavaliers every time they play then your cheating yourself and, frankly, you should have your Cleveland fan card revoked. I hear far too much bellyaching from fans about how all of our teams suck and aren't fun to watch.
If you want to watch something breathtaking and amazing, tune into Cavaliers basketball and watch the Kyrie show. There are 29 more games this season to catch something special.
Come on, Cleveland. We don't get nice things that often. It's time we go all-in on Kyrie.
You can follow Benjamin Flack on Twitter @ClevelandFlack.
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