Cleveland Cavalier rookie sensations Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson competed in the Rising Stars Challenge game on Friday, Feb. 24 as Team Chuck, Irving’s team, defeated Team Shaq, Thompson’s team, 146-133 in a game that has many Cavalier fans excited for the future of the franchise.
NBA commissioner David Stern said during All-Star Weekend that he was glad to be seeing Cleveland heading in the right direction after losing their superstar LeBron James two summers ago to the Miami Heat and eternally struggling last season to win games. That was all said after Irving and Thompson led their respected teams in scoring Friday night.
Thompson scored 20 points to lead the scoring for Team Shaq, but his teammate Irving had to 1-up him. Irving was flawless from beyond the arc, going 8-8 in three point attempts and scoring 34 points. His performance won him MVP honors and the respect of his NBA peers.
Irving shot 12/13 from the field and outplayed the likes of Blake Griffin, Jeremy Lin and Ricky Rubio. Irving, who was the No. 1 pick in last year’s NBA draft, was also No. 1 in the Rising Stars Challenge draft. Charles Barkley, who owned the first pick in the fantasy draft for the Rookie/Sophomore game, chose Irving first ahead of stars like Griffin, Lin and Rubio.
Irving said later that he would rather a feat like this happen in a game with his fellow Cavalier players, but he was also honored to take home MVP honors with a lights-out performance.