The first returns of fan voting for the NBA All-Star Game, released by the NBA on Christmas day, had Washington Wizards point guard John Wall a bit miffed. Wall, a starter in last year’s game, was fifth among guards in the Eastern Conference while Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving was second despite having played just a few games because of injury.
Wall, who was recently named the Eastern Conference player of the month, voiced his dissenting opinion and headlines were created, but both players claim there isn’t any ill will.
“There’s no beef or anything,” Irving said.
The episode, however, didn’t end there. During a timeout in the second quarter of the Cavaliers’ 121-115 win in Washington on Wednesday night, the Wizards’ in-game entertainment arm presented a lighthearted video spoofing the matter on the jumbotron.
A few fans wearing Cavaliers gear — perhaps solely for the purposes of the segment — were asked if Wall or Irving was more deserving to start in the all-star game. Every fan shown said Wall. The video lasted less than a minute but the Cavaliers noticed, according to Cleveland.com.
“We didn’t like it as a team,” Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith said. “We didn’t like it at all.”
While the video aired, Wall was struggling with perhaps the worst half of his season. He scored two points on 1-of-9 shooting and committed six turnovers before halftime. Wall recovered with a better second half and helped Washington come back from an 18-point deficit. He finished with 20 points, 12 assists and seven turnovers in 40 minutes.
But Irving, who was playing his seventh game after a six-and-a-half month recovery from surgery to repair a fractured left kneecap, feasted on the Wizards in the fourth quarter while Wall rested. He mesmerized the sellout crowd with a series of difficulty shots, exploiting one-on-one matchups with his world-class skill set, and scored 10 straight points to break a tie at 95. By the end of the period, he had recorded 19 of his 32 points and the last laugh.
“At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how many games Kyrie plays,” Cavaliers forward LeBron James said. “He’s an all-star player. That’s out of the question. He’s, if not the best, one of the two best point guards in our league, along with Steph. So that’s not even a question, and he just continues to show why he’s that. I think, and I’m going to continue to harp on it, he’s much more than just an all-star player. He’s much better than that. He’s 23 years old. He hasn’t even scratched the surface yet.”