Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving entered Saturday’s NBA All-Star 3-Point Shootout as the dark horse to win the competition, but was able to edge out San Antonio Spurs lethal sharpshooter Matt Booner in the finals to take home the gold ball trophy.
“I just wanted to go out and prove a point that I was one of the premier shooters out here with all of these guys,” Irving told Michael Wallace of ESPN.com
Irving was able to outshoot Booner in the final round 23-20, coming two points shy of tying the shooting record. But for the 20-year-old Irving winning the 3-Point Shootout at All-Star weekend is small feat in his ultimate goal.
“This weekend was just basically about earning everybody’s respect and getting a chance for people to see me that usually don’t see me,” Irving said. “This weekend is to show my face and get everybody acclimated to my face in the league.”
Irving, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, will have no problem getting NBA fans used to his face because he has been one of the most exciting point guards in the NBA this season. He demonstrated his quickness in Friday’s Rising Stars challenge by scoring 32 points. Irving left his impression on the fans Friday night when he crossed over Detroit Pistons guard Brandon Knight causing him to fall to the floor.
Irving, who is shooting 42.5 percent from the 3-point arc this season, received some help from Cleveland coach Byron Scott. Scott, who competed in the shootout three times during his NBA career, held several shooting competitions after recent Cavaliers practices to prepare Irving for the competition.
Irving will now compete in Sunday’s All-Star game and will attempt to help the East defeat the West.
While Irving won the 3-point competition, Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard took him the gold trophy for the skills challenge. Lillard defeated Philadelphia 76ers point guard Jrue Holiday in the finals.
In Saturday’s most anticipated event, the slam dunk contest, Toronto Raptors shooting guard Terence Ross won the competition. He dethroned last year’s champion Utah Jazz small forward Jeremy Evans.
NBA All-Star weekend will wrap up Sunday with the All-Star game, which will be sure to provide some highlights for fans.