NEW ORLEANS: Kyrie Irving won’t get his wish of matching Larry Bird’s three-peat.
Irving was eliminated after the first round of the 3-point shootout as part of All-Star Saturday night.
Irving went last in the eight-man field and again performed wearing his warm-up jacket, just as he did last year when he won the competition on his first try. Irving said he wears it as a tribute to Bird, who is the only player to win three consecutive events. Irving scored a 16, but only two players advance beyond the first round.
One of the balls fell out of Irving’s fourth rack, causing him to shoot the 2-point “money ball” first. Ultimately, it didn’t matter. Now Irving will turn his attention to today’s All-Star Game, where he will start for the first time in his career.
“This weekend is about competing and having fun with all those guys and being with the elite talents of the world,” Irving said. “That’s what it’s about. It’s about fan support, having the fans see you. That’s how I view this weekend.”
The Washington Wizards’ Bradley Beal and the San Antonio Spurs’ Marco Belinelli tied in the final round, but Belinelli won with a score of 24 in the tiebreaker. Beal scored an 18 in the tiebreaker.
As for the rest of All-Star Saturday night, the team of Chris Bosh, Dominique Wilkins and Swin Cash won the Shooting Stars competition for the second consecutive year, leading to questions for Bosh about repeating and perhaps a new Big Three.
Bosh won the contest with two half-court heaves, which he actually shot as a normal jump shot rather than the push shot most everyone else uses.
“I keep asking Coach [Erik Spoelstra] to let me shoot that [half court] shot in the game,” Bosh joked. “He won’t let me do it yet, but I think today will give him confidence if he was watching.”
The team of Damian Lillard and Trey Burke won the Skills Competition.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver held his first All-Star press conference on Saturday. Among the topics covered, Silver believes the league will eventually put advertisements on jerseys, he wants to push for a 20-year-old age limit in the next collective bargaining agreement and he differentiated between “tanking” and “rebuilding.”
Tanking has become a hot topic this season, while the league explores ways to change the draft lottery system again to stop rewarding teams that consistently lose.
“My understanding of tanking would be losing games on purpose, and there’s absolutely no evidence that any team in the NBA has ever lost a single game, or certainly in any time that I’ve been in the league, on purpose. … If there was any indication whatsoever that players or coaches somehow were not doing their absolute most to win a game, we would be all over that.”
As for the controversial sleeved jerseys, Silver conceded he has received mixed reviews from the players, but he’s pleased with the high sales.
“We’re having trouble keeping them in stores,” he said.
As for the ads on jerseys, Silver said nothing is imminent, but it’s inevitable.
“Our goal through putting sponsorships on jerseys is to expand [advertising money],” he said. “It’s unusual that a sponsor would choose to only be represented on a jersey and not in commercial time and not in courtside signage and not in the arena in other ways.”