HOUSTON: Kyrie Irving conceded he has amazed even himself with the type of impact he has already made on the NBA. He is amazing the rest of the league, too.
Irving won the 3-point contest on All-Star Saturday night, scoring 23 points in the final round to fall two points shy of the contest’s record.
Irving considered himself a darkhorse in the event and said last week he thought he could surprise some people. Then he went out and missed just five shots in the final round to defeat the San Antonio Spurs’ Matt Bonner and continue his remarkable run.
“When I’m alone and I’m watching SportsCenter or NBA TV, it’s a surreal moment,” Irving said. “I do have some surreal moments at times. It’s a blessing and an honor to be recognized as one of the great players in the league.”
The Rising Stars MVP and Rookie of the Year from last season, Irving is again taking over All-Star weekend. He dazzled in the Rising Stars game again Friday with his crossover skills, then scored 18 points in the first round Saturday before really catching fire in the second round. He is the second Cavs player to win the contest after Mark Price won it in 1993 and 1994 and his final-round score was just shy of the 25 points recorded by both Craig Hodges (1986) and Jason Kapono (2008).
Irving is shooting .425 on 3-pointers to rank 13th in the league. He considers himself more of a shooter off the dribble than a catch-and-shoot type of player. On this night, he was just fine as a set shooter.
“I just wanted to go out and prove a point that I was one of the premiere shooters out here with all these guys,” Irving said. “Steve Novak and Matt Bonner, I never thought I’d beat those guys.”
Irving now has bragging rights over Cavs coach Byron Scott. Irving was ruthless on Scott for the last week over Scott’s third-place finish in the 3-point contest in 1988. Irving said he’d have little trouble topping that finish and refused to take advice from his coach because he wouldn’t take advice from a third-place finisher.
“I can now give myself my own advice,” Irving said.