CLEVELAND: If Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra starts Chris Bosh in next week’s All-Star Game instead of Kyrie Irving, no one in Cleveland will be publicly protesting.
The East needs a replacement for injured point guard Rajon Rondo, and while Irving appears to be an obvious choice, Spoelstra is already hinting he’ll start Bosh and move LeBron James to point guard.
“I will tell you this, unequivocally, that my loyalties are first and foremost always with the Miami Heat,” Spoelstra said.
Irving said he won’t be disappointed if he doesn’t get the start.
“I’m just excited to be part of the All-Star Game,” he said, “whether I’m a starter or not.”
Cavs coach Byron Scott, who endorsed Irving for a starting role last week, said he understands Spoelstra’s thinking.
“He’s the coach, he’s earned that right to pick who he wants,” Scott said. “I have a lot of respect for Erik, so I have no problem.”
Spoelstra was named coach of the East on Sunday thanks to the Heat’s best record in the conference.
There was confusion around the league as to who appoints an injury replacement starter. The league said in a release that it’s the coach’s decision, but it’s actually the commissioner’s decision to fill the spot or give the coach power to fill it. In this instance, NBA Commissioner David Stern gave Spoelstra permission to fill it how he sees fit.
Bosh finished fourth in voting among frontcourt players in the East.
This is his first season as a full-time center, but he is not among the top 20 in scoring or the top 35 in rebounding. Irving began Wednesday sixth in the league in scoring.
“If I was coaching, there’s nobody in the world who could tell me who I was going to start if I had one spot available and the commissioner said, ‘Coach, it’s on you,’ ” Scott said. “Most likely it would be one of my guys.”
I’m with him
Tristan Thompson had a simple answer when asked which team he’d like to play for during the Rising Stars game: Team Shaq or Team Charles.
“Whatever team Kyrie is on, that’s the team I want to play for,” Thompson said. “He got MVP last year. If I’m on his team, I can persuade him to get some assists. I’ll tell him he can get the assists record and I’ll get all the points.”
A message came across Irving’s Twitter feed Tuesday about his upcoming appearance on Wheel of Fortune. Turns out, not even Irving knew about it.
“Honestly I’m probably going to get in trouble after this for not knowing,” Irving said. “But I literally have no idea. My agent’s assistant asked if she could tweet it and she tweeted it.”
This is NBA Week on the hit game show, but Irving is not a contestant. Apparently he was the subject of a short interview for the show, and it will air on Friday.
Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap wasn’t the least bit surprised to see Irving beat the Oklahoma City Thunder over the weekend.
He saw what Irving could do last month when he beat the Bobcats with a well-defended jumper with one second left in the game.
“Everybody needs someone like Kyrie, who can go independent of coaching, and in those tough situations make that tough shot,” Dunlap said. “It’s in his DNA. OKC found that out, too. He’s done that a number of times.”
The Bobcats defended Irving on that shot with the 6-foot-7 Jeff Taylor, and although Taylor stuck with him, Irving created enough space to get the shot off over his outstretched arm.
“Sometimes great offense beats great defense,” Scott said.
The Cavs will begin Black Heritage Celebration when they honor Delta Sigma Theta sorority at halftime of Friday’s game against the Orlando Magic. … Luke Walton (foot) and Daniel Gibson (toe) were both cleared from injuries and available to play on Wednesday.
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.