NEW ORLEANS -- All the pre-game chatter was about whether it was going to be LeBron James or Kevin Durant who took home the precious Most Valuable Player hardware in Sunday's NBA All-Star game.
Someone forgot to tell Cleveland's Kyrie Irving that it was only a two-man race.
Irving poured in 24 of his team-high 31 points in the second half to guide the East to a 163-155 win over the West. Afterwards, James was the first to tip his hat to the Cavaliers' second-year guard.
"Kyrie is special,'' said James, who had 22 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. "It's just that simple.
"He's a very special basketball player, a very smart basketball player. His ability to shoot the ball, get into the lane, make shots around the rim -- he has a total package.''
Irving took the compliment from James in stride.
"Just being out there with all these great athletes and playing in front of a great crowd in New Orleans, and then the game got competitive,'' Irving said. "You think as athletes we all want to make the game competitive, especially an All-Star game.
"But at the end of the day it was about having fun and the camaraderie and the friendships out there and just being in front of those gracious fans.''
-- Dwain Price
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