Cade Cunningham, MVP of the Rising Stars game

Detroit Pistons point guard Cade Cunningham, number one in the last NBA Draft, was chosen on Friday as the MVP (Most Valuable Player) of the All-Star Emerging Stars event in Cleveland (Ohio).

The 20-year-old Cunningham scored 13 points in the semi-final and another 5 in the final, in which he won with the team led by the legendary Rick Barry.

The ‘Rising Stars’ event once again opened up the All-Star weekend schedule, this time with three mini-games between first and second-year players made more exciting thanks to a change in format.

The NBA resumed the event after it was canceled in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, which forced the All-Star program to be condensed into a single day.

Seeking a better balance between spectacle and competitiveness, the NBA changed the traditional confrontation between American and foreign players for a mini-tournament with four teams.

A total of 12 rookies, 12 sophomores and four G-League players were spread across the combined four.

Under the direction of an NBA legend, the four teams competed in a semi-final and final playoff with no time limit.

The winning team in the semifinals was the first to reach 50 points and in the final 25, which led the players to offer more effort than in a mere exhibition game.

Team Barry Victory
In the first key, the team led by Isiah Thomas, winner of two rings with the Detroit Pistons, beat James Worthy, a member of the legendary Lakers of the eighties, 50-49.

Rookie guard Jalen Green (Rockets) was the game’s leading scorer with 20 points but blew Team Worthy’s last chance to win.

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Leading 49-48, needing just one point to win, Green tried to end the game with a blocked 3-pointer and left the Thomas team win on a platter with two Desmond Bane free throws.

In the second semifinal, the team led by Rick Barry, NBA champion in 1975 with the Warriors, beat Gary Payton’s team, former figure of the Seattle Supersonics, 50-48.

Rockets forward Jae’Sean Tate scored the game-winning basket with an acrobatic tackle through a swarm of defenders.

Point guard LaMelo Ball (Hornets), who will participate in the All-Star Game on Sunday, had 8 points and missed a triple that could have given the victory to the Payton team.

The final had less rhythm than the previous games but also reached the final stretch with a tight score.

With a brief 21-20 lead for the Barry team, Cunningham took control of the game nailing a withering triple and giving an assist to German Franz Wagner who, after receiving a personal foul, scored the free kick that put the final 25-20 .

"I wanted to have fun but I also wanted to win. There are great players and coaches here and I wanted to have my moment"said Cunningham, who is averaging 15.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.2 assists in his first season with the Pistons.

Nigerian Precious Achiuwa (Raptors) added 12 of the 20 points of the Payton team.

Dominican rookie Chris Duarte (Pacers) had been chosen to play this event but had to withdraw due to left foot problems.

All-Star Weekend will continue on Saturday with the skills, 3-point and dunk contests and conclude on Sunday with the traditional All-Star Game.

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