It’s a big weekend for Kyrie Irving. Last night he followed his 2012 Rising Stars Challenge MVP performance with another show stealing night thanks to his 32 points and shattering of Brandon Knight’s ankles. Tonight is stop two on the You Better Recognize Tour, starring Kyrie Irving. All-Star Saturday night has always been something of interest to me. As a kid I loved the theater of the whole thing. To me nothing was cooler than watching the NBA’s best entertain the NBA’s best. It was great to see the heroes I looked up to and watched every night turn into fans just like me. Holding up “10” signs, oohing and aahing, and poking fun at each other like ordinary kids instead of mega millionaires, I loved it. I imagine this was the same reason I made my dad tape the Home Run Derby while I was away at basketball camp, and why I still remember Edgerrin James tearing up an obstacle course at the NCAA skills challenge. I loved seeing my heroes unmasked and away from the normal context I was used to seeing them. All-Star Saturday night, the home run derby, and skills challenges are exhibitions. No teammates, no coaches, just the player out on an island for all to see.
When I was a kid I blindly worshiped the players i saw on TV, but as you grow older and more cynical that wares off and the luster of seeing the game’s stars on display starts to fade. I stopped watching All-Star Saturday night as an enamored child, and instead watched as a young adult with a minor gambling obsession. But tonight I wont be watching Kyrie as a little boy dreaming of one day being in his shoes, or a man rooting for his wallet.
Tonight will be different. Tonight, a player from my team, representing my city, will be center stage for everyone to see. Despite Kyrie’s meteoric rise, there are still loads of basketball fans who have never seen him in live action. I imagine some got their first taste last night, but Friday night’s festivities hardly compare to the theater of Saturday and Sunday. Tonight I want Cleveland to continue to show Kyrie off. In skills challenges like the ones we’ll watch tonight you get to see beyond the athlete you see night in and night out. You get to see them under a magnifying glass.
All star Saturday night brings the player front and center in front of all of his peers, his heroes, and his fans. When all eyes are on you, your personality comes out. I don’t just want Kyrie to win tonight because of the 9/2 odds Vegas has him at. I want much more than a small payout, I want the world to see the kid we’ve all fallen in love with. The kid who gives a nod to his dad court side before he buries the Celtics, the kid who loves playing hours of Call of Duty online, and the kid whose Uncle Drew deuces on young bloods on the playground. I want the world to see the sweet stroke Kyrie has, but also the endearing personality that goes along with his yo-yo handles and classy finishing. I want to see all-star teammates rooting him on, celebrating in success, and embracing him in defeat. Cleveland has already embraced Kyrie and so have many die hard hoops fans out there, but I want the casual fans to see how special he his. I want them to see how his peers respect him. I want them to see that Kyrie’s presence at All-Star weekend is not an abnormality, but a formality the basketball world better get used to.
And if he happens to win, that 9/2 payout wont be too bad either
Follow Ryan Jones on Twitter @CzarJonesey7