Celebrity status grows for Kyrie Irving during All-Star weekend

By Jason Lloyd
Beacon Journal sports writer

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Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers shoots during the 3-point contest during NBA basketball All-Star Saturday Night in Feb. 2013, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

The most surreal moment of Kyrie Irving’s All-Star weekend came when he returned to the court for the second half of Sunday’s All-Star Game. Hip-hop stars like Jay-Z, Drake and 2 Chainz approached him and knew him on a first-name basis.

“If I would’ve randomly saw them on the street a year ago, they wouldn’t know who the hell I was,” Irving said. “That was a ‘pinch me’ moment.”

Irving is still adjusting to his celebrity status following a sparkling All-Star weekend, but he’ll also have to adjust to the drawback from the increased exposure. The more Irving plays, the more people around the league are taking notice — particularly young point guards who now have a target in their scope.

“I think the target had already developed,” Cavaliers coach Byron Scott said. “It might be a bigger target. It’s a bull’s-eye now. It’s a big one.”

Irving has already caught glimpses of that in the past, when guys like the Sacramento Kings’ Isaiah Thomas and the Detroit Pistons’ Brandon Knight seem to attack him with full throttle. Irving was the first player chosen in the 2011 draft, and Thomas was the last. Similarly, Irving was the first point guard selected and Knight was the second. The two have developed a budding rivalry ever since that and added another chapter in Friday’s Rising Stars game, when the two guards went at each other and at one point Knight landed flat on his back.

Irving called the highlight of his weekend simply playing in Sunday’s game, but the 3-point contest apparently was a called shot. He told reporters before departing for Houston he thought he would surprise some people, but he told Scott after his practice rounds at Cleveland Clinic Courts on Tuesday that he would win.

Irving’s best practice round in Cleveland was a 22, but he scored a 23 in his final round in Houston.

“We now have a first-place and third-place winner in the facility,” Irving said as yet another jab toward Scott’s third-place finish in the event in 1988.

Scott said he earned a little more slack in the trash talking department because of the victory.

“He could’ve come in last and he’d have come in talking trash, it doesn’t matter,” Scott said. “He would’ve had an excuse that the ball was slippery, they didn’t start the clock on time, he’d have come up with something. The trash talk with him is going to continue no matter what.”

Scott had his fingerprints all across All-Star weekend, from Irving’s 3-point victory to Chris Paul’s Most Valuable Player trophy in the All-Star Game to Tyson Chandler’s first All-Star appearance.

Scott is credited with reviving Chandler’s career in New Orleans — although Paul certainly had a lot to do with it as well. By playing on a badly injured ankle a few years ago, Chandler put his career in jeopardy. He wasn’t supposed to be around this long, yet he made his first All-Star appearance in his 12th season in the league.

“I was proud the whole weekend,” Scott said. “Not just because of Kyrie and CP, but Tyson got his just due as well. He should’ve made the All-Star team when we were in New Orleans.”

Buss remembered

Scott called late Los Angeles Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss a close friend and one of the greatest owners in the NBA. Buss died Monday morning.

“He was not your typical owner,” Scott said. “Dr. Buss was a friend. He was one of the first persons that called me after I was fired in New Orleans and I hung out with him a few times, which was hard because every time we hung out, everyone took it as me trying to get the Laker job or us talking about the Laker job. They didn’t understand it was a genuine friendship between us. I love him to death because of all the things he brought to Los Angeles and the Lakers and what he meant to that city. Obviously it’s a very sad day in Los Angeles.”

Jason Lloyd can be reached at jlloyd@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.

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