A normally mundane contest got slightly entertaining when two old rivals went head-to-head in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge.
In one corner, all-world point guard Kyrie Irving from the Cleveland Cavaliers and in the other, the man selected seven spots after him in the 2011 draft, Pistons guard Brandon Knight.
Irving made Knight slip and fall with a couple devastating crossovers late in Friday's game, leading to baskets and waking up the indifferent crowd. Knight, ever the competitor, crossed Irving over twice, missing both layups but getting the crowd on his side.
Knight also nailed a step-back 3-pointer — one where he didn't call "glass" as it went off the backboard. The two were rated No. 1 and No. 2 coming out of high school, and despite denials from both, enjoy a friendly rivalry that turned into a friendly but competitive exchange in an otherwise defenseless game.
"I guess Kyrie, he wanted to be interested," said Knight, an obvious shot at Irving's comments about not being interested in the last Pistons-Cavaliers meeting, when Knight got the best of him.
"It's always gonna be like that. Same division, so we'll see each other a lot. It just happened that we ended up on each other. After I slipped on the first one, he used that one as fuel. Competition comes up, that's how it goes."
The final score of 163-135 was inconsequential, as the team selected by Charles Barkley (Knight's) defeated the team selected by Shaquille O'Neal.
It's a glorified exhibition, for all intents and purposes, and players are simply there in a ceremonial sense, honored to be selected as one of the top 18 rookies and sophomores picked by two legends who possess the loudest and most influential voices in today's game.
"You want to keep it a team game but it adds some spice to it," Knight said. "He's a tough player to guard, especially in an All-Star Game."
Knight scored 10 points in 18 minutes, but even he's likely to forget the numbers and only remember the experience itself.
Pistons guard Brandon Knight enjoys competition with Kyrie Irving in Challenge
Detroit News | Feb 16