The King and the Jester of All-Star Weekend
All-Star weekend is that special moment when reflection meets realization. Teams can reassess their rosters, and fans can see the game's best, including those rising starts who are on the cusp of coming into their own.
From my perspective, beyond a shadow of a doubt, Kyrie Irving himself was the highlight of the entire All-Star weekend. He excelled each and every night. Starting with the Rising Star game Friday, Irving proved that his ascendency to the game's elite is nearly complete, compiling 32 points, six rebounds, and six assists in a spirited exhibition among the league's most promising newcomers. Saturday night, he grabbed headlines again by winning the Three-Point Shootout, besting Matt Bonner without much of a fight. Then on Sunday, Irving added the cherry on top by going head-to-head with Chris Paul down the stretch of the fourth quarter. Irving may not have had outstanding numbers, but he still finished with 15 points, four assists and three rebounds.
With this trifecta, I would have created an MVP of the All-Star Weekend just for him. Kyrie is the epitome of what this weekend is all about. In fact, I believe he is just what the Cleveland Cavaliers need. He's quickly becoming their new 'king,' if you will; instead of fretting over the one that left, Cavs fans should enjoy the dawn of an exciting new reign.
While the royal scepter was being passed to Irving, it seemed like Dwight Howard continued his descent to 'court jester.' It's a shame that for months he has been complaining about his injuries, but then we get a glimpse of him firing off three pointers in the shootaround. Looks like his labrum is better now.
Howard was also shown joking, flashing 'gun' signs, and as ubiquitously reported, jeering Kobe Bryant. There comes a point when one has to grow up. I know All-Star weekend is supposed to be fun and a way to let off steam, but Howard's behavior was extreme. I can't help but think a team must be crazy or desperate to want this toxicity in their locker room.
Maya Angelou said "The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.” Howard has shown over and over again who he is: a complainer who plays when he wants and has a poisonous personality capable of destroying teams and staff. What hasn't he shown us? That he is capable of manifesting qualities that leaders possess and that he cares about anything or anyone except for himself. This is a jester that shows no signs of change, regardless of a bigger contract or a new team.
The season's midway point has shown us what the league has to offer, both the good and the bad. Let's hope that we see more of Kyrie Irving, a gem of the next generation, and less of the never-ending soap opera exposing the old court jesters.