HOUSTON — Kenneth Faried was the MVP of the Rising Stars Challenge at the Toyota Center in Houston on Friday, finishing with a game-high 40 points while his Team Chuck beat Team Shaq 163-135.
But Kyrie Irving and Brandon Knight stole the show.
Late in the game with a little over five minutes remaining, Irving and Knight started to go at each other in a one-on-one battle that woke the sleeping crowd and made for an exciting few minutes of action.
Irving got the best of it all, and came away with the game’s signature highlight after crossing Knight, then dropping him before stepping back to drill the long jumper as his defender fell to the floor.
The whole thing came about organically, as Irving told us afterward.
“Just happened, honestly, a couple of plays down, going down the court with him,” he said. “But more or less, that kind of rivalry with me and B Knight has been happening since high school, since we started playing against each other. We were battling for the one and two spot in high school. He’s a good friend of mine, it’s great competition.”
Even though Knight was on the losing end of this particular contest, he seemed genuinely happy to have been a part of it.
“Stuff like that is always fun, it creates memories,” he said.
Pride intervened at least a little bit for Knight, as he tried to downplay some of Irving’s heroics.
“First one I slipped,” he said. “Second one it was between a slip and a good move. You gotta give props where props is due. First one I slipped for sure. Second one, you know, stuff happens.”
Irving’s rookie teammate, Dion Waiters, has seen the show plenty of times before, and has even been in Knight’s position in the past. He was happy that this time, he was able to sit back and enjoy the show.
“It was great,” Waiters said. “That’s what you come to see. You live for that. It was crazy man, but it was nice. It was nice. You don’t want to be on that island out there with Kyrie.”
Waiters had some advice for others who may end up on that island in a similar one-on-one battle with Irving at some point in the future.
“You’ve got to foul him,” Waiters said. “He knows. No easy buckets, man. That’s my guy, though. It was fun watching that.”