Leonard Scores 20 In The 2013 Rising Stars Challenge

By Ian Dougherty

The 2013 NBA All-Star Weekend got off to a start on Friday with the Rising Stars Challenge. (I don’t count the celebrity game because that game is always horrible. The only bright spot for the last few years has been Arne Duncan.) Team Chuck knocked off Team Shaq 163-135, in a game that, as usual, was extremely fast paced and was lacking in defense.

Kenneth Faried made Charles Barkley, the “GM” of Team Chuck look like a genius, as he had 40 points and 10 rebounds on his way to picking up the MVP award for the night. Kyrie Irving was the leader of Team Shaq (Which is of course headed up by the Big Aristotle.) with 32 points, as he put on a dazzling exhibition in the game for the 2nd straight year, as he went 8-8 from three point land last year.

Other notables for the game included Dion Waiters with 23, Isiah Thomas with 18 points and 10 assists, Tristan Thompson with 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Kawhi Leonard with 20 points.

For those of you Spurs fans that didn’t see the game, Kawhi Leonard looked as good as he could in the game, showing his athleticism off on the first play of the game, catching a lob for an alley-oop from Anthony Davis. In another sequence early in the second half, he hit back to back three pointers. Heck, at one point Kawhi even pulled up for a three in transition, a move that would have gotten a nice warm spot on the bench in an actual game.

But, you have to remember that this is merely an exhibition. There is absolutely no defense in a game like this. And, as evidenced by late in Friday’s game, a makeshift dunk contest can evolve from it if you aren’t careful. Therefore, any stats that are accumulated from this game are essentially meaningless. They do not even come close to painting a picture of what will happen when a player is inserted into a regular season game. So, while it was nice to see Kawhi perform tonight in front of a national tv audience, just remember that none of this really matters and this is all for fun.