HOUSTON — Before Kyrie Irving shook the audience from its slumber by deciding to shake defender Brandon Knight to the floor, this was probably my favorite moment from Friday night's BBVA Rising Stars Challenge at the Toyota Center — a quick, just before-the-end-of-the-first-half hookup between Minnesota Timberwolves sophomore point guard Ricky Rubio and Washington Wizards rookie shooting guard Bradley Beal.
It all starts so simply, with Rubio (who finished with five points and 10 assists in 15 1/2 minutes of playing time on Friday) getting a switch on the perimeter, hesitating just a beat and driving right against Golden State Warriors swingman Harrison Barnes. And then, it gets complicated — that beautiful, how'd-that-happen type of complicated that seems associated more with Rubio's passes than with those of any other table-setter in the league — when he heads under the basket, spots (without ever looking) Beal cutting in from the perimeter, and whips a one-hand, through-the-legs, no-look bounce pass past Barnes that hits Beal perfectly in step and in rhythm to get up and throw down.
Obviously, it's not shocking that Rubio would go between his legs — I mean, at this point it almost seems like passing through legs is the only kind of pass Rubio is interested in throwing — but even compared to his thrilling regular-season exploits, this seemed to have an extra bit of panache. Check out that reverse angle — he's looking directly into the crowd when he throws the pass straight behind him, perfectly on the button, to a driving Beal. There are many reasons why Ricky Rubio must get and remain fully healthy; ensuring that he is perpetually able to entertain us in exhibition games like the Rising Stars Challenge and always take part in everything related to All-Star Weekend is just one of them.
Video via @cjzero.