Kyrie Irving had a secret warm-up before his 3-point barrage in Friday’s Rising Stars game between NBA rookies and sophomores.
As part of All-Star weekend in Orlando, the NBA staged a Jam Session each day at the Orange County Convention Center, complete with basketball tournaments for the public, play areas for kids, NBA memorabilia and souvenirs.
Irving went there Thursday to sign autographs as part of a promotion, and when he was finished, he wandered through the convention center to see what was offered.
He came across a 3-on-3, 3-point competition and a team from Orlando that had been winning all day. No one was sure how many games the team had won, but stories ranged from 38 to 74.
Irving challenged the three with Cavs head of security Marvin Cross and some random fan who was pulled out of the crowd as his teammates.
“I don’t even remember his name,” Irving said. “I wound up taking a picture with him and his child afterward. That’s basically all I remember.”
The two teams tied in the first game, then Irving’s team won the rematch.
The three guys on the losing team had to do 10 push-ups for losing, with Irving counting off the push-ups into the microphone.
“They had it coming to them,” Irving joked about the push-ups. “I just wanted to make it interesting, a little incentive on the line.”
After winning that 3-point shootout on Thursday, Irving made all eight of his 3-point attempts in the Rising Stars game on Friday, finishing with 34 points to earn the Most Valuable Player award.
“Those 3s are the reason they won,” said Tristan Thompson, who was Irving’s opponent for one day. “There’s not a lot of defense played in All-Star games. That put them over the edge.”
Parker returns for game
Anthony Parker returned to the starting lineup Tuesday after missing 12 games with a strained lower back. Parker injured his back in a game against the Boston Celtics on Jan. 29 and admitted he was surprised it took so long to heal. He dealt with back issues last season, too.
“This one, it happened at a certain time in the game, where the last couple times I’ve had problems with my back, it’s been a gradual stiffness where it got sore and locked up on me,” Parker said. “This was an actual injury, so it was a little different. I just couldn’t get over the hump. Every time it started to feel better, we’d get aggressive and I’d feel the same pain again and we’d go back to square one. It took a lot longer than I anticipated, but I know back injuries are tricky.”
Parker picked a difficult opponent to return against in Celtics shooting guard Ray Allen, who began the night third in the league in 3-point shooting.
“You can’t ever accuse me of ducking anybody,” Parker joked.
Fun weekend for Thompson
Thompson enjoyed his experience at All-Star weekend, but didn’t stick around to watch the game Sunday. While Irving was riding rides at Universal Studios on Sunday, Thompson watched the game on television with a friend in Orlando. They hired a chef to cook a gourmet meal for the day.
Thompson caught a bit of the Slam Dunk contest Saturday night and had the same reaction as most everyone else.
“It was not the greatest,” he said. “I think the first five minutes of the All-Star Game was better.”
Thompson had 20 points in the Rising Stars game, but 18 of those came on dunks.
“I could’ve been in the dunk-off, but we won’t get into that,” Thompson said.
Samuels’ passport secure
Samardo Samuels flew to the Bahamas during All-Star weekend and received a new passport and visa papers, meaning he’ll be allowed to make the trip with the Cavs to Toronto on April 6.
Samuels, of Jamaica, was unable to travel to Canada for an early season game because he lost all of his paperwork.
“They already had all the information,” Samuels said. “I did an interview on Thursday and got it back on Friday.”
Samuels said he went to the Bahamas because it was the quickest way to get the documents — not to get a tropical vacation on All-Star weekend.
“I was only there that one night. It’s expensive,” Samuels said. “Three nights would be like, whew. You’re thinking about the money more than the vacation.”
The Cavaliers held a moment of silence before Tuesday’s game to honor the three students killed and two wounded in Monday’s shootings at Chardon High School.
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at http://cavs.ohio.com Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.