The basketball fans went back home from the Smoothie King Arena here on Sunday night a happy lot. The NBA All Star Weekend party continued till late in the night for the locals and visitors to this port city.
Eastern Conference All Stars, powered by Kyrie Irving of Cleveland Cavaliers with 38 points and 14 assists rallied in the second half to defeat Western Conference All Stars 163-157 to extend their dominance in All Star games to 37 win in the 63rd edition. This also stopped West's thee-match winning streak.
Having been treated to a fine exhibition of basketball from some of the best in business, the fans joined in the celebrations as this is also annual Mardi Gras season, a carnival that attracts a lot of tourists. It seemed as if the whole of New Orleans besides scores from other parts of the USA were on the streets during the three days of this extravaganza.
Twenty one-year-old Irving, in only his second All Star appearance, also won the Most Valuable Player award and was glad to take the honour back to Cleveland. The last three days of the All Star Weekend has been something special, considering the importance NBA gives the fans. The involvement of the fans is immense and it was evident in Sunday's game. There was not one boring moment during the game and also in the other events that make the All Star Weekend a memorable one.
With the players being voted in by the fans to form the teams, the superstar cagers went all out to entertain their supporters and give them their money's worth. Western Conference players Kevin Durant of Oklahoma City Thunder and Blake Griffin of LA Clippers, who both finished with 38 points each in this match that saw all-time high scoring in All Star history, were disappointed at the loss but were happy to have entertained the fans.
"We only play this game as fun," Durant said while Griffin, who made a new All-Star record for most field goals, 19 and kept West in front until the third quarter, said: "That was actually my first loss in All Star game. You don't want to lose but this game is for the fans and to do things they want to see – the jump shots – I just went and had fun."