The BBVA Rising Stars Challenge is one of the least serious events of the All-Star Weekend, a chance for rookies and second-year players to have fun and bring a little playground style to an NBA court. Every year, there are always one or two highlights that stand out as moments of amazing creativity.
During Friday night's contest in Houston, Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving provided the obvious showcase moment. With roughly 5:30 left on the clock and his team losing in a blowout, Irving decided to forget the score and put on a show. He lured Detroit Pistons guard Brandon Knight into an isolation and proceeded to break him down with an absurd collection of dribbling moves before rising for a stepback jumper. To add insult to injury, Knight attempted to challenge the shot and slipped, falling to the ground in shame.
The highlight apparently sparked something in Knight, because he went right back down the court and attacked Irving for a (banked) three-pointer. Irving didn't stop, though, and continued to beat Knight off the dribble. It was the best exchange of the night by a wide margin.
After the game, Irving spoke to assembled reporters about the sequence with Knight (via our Dan Devine). Apparently their rivalry goes back to their days as prep stars:
Q: When you started going after it with Brandon Knight, how did that whole thing even develop?
A: Just happened, honestly, a couple of plays down, going down the court with him. But more or less, that kind of rivalry with me and B. Knight has been happening since high school, since we started playing against each other. We were battling for the one and two spot in high school. He's a good friend of mine. It's great competition.
Unfortunately, the Rising Stars Challenge did not provide its usual amount of highlights, with action only really getting exciting in the closing minutes when the result was clearly decided. Charles Barkley's Team Chuck beat Shaquille O'Neal's Team Shaq 165-135, largely on the strength of superior effort and occasional defensive rotations. Kenneth Faried doubled others' energy on his way to MVP honors, scoring 40 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
(Video via Beyond the Buzzer)