The 2017 NBA All-Star weekend went by without much noise from the Cleveland athletes, but such is not always the case. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving had won the previous two All-Star Game MVP Awards when the game was held in New Orleans. Plenty of other crazy, fun, and memorable events have been made by the Northcoast athletes either in the game itself or the lead up activities. WFNY decided to describe a few of our favorites.
The rules are simple. Choose your favorite all-time Cleveland athlete who had the most memorable All-Star or Pro Bowl performance. It can be in the game itself or in one of the events leading up to the game. If someone has already selected that player, then choose your second favorite (or third if second also picked, etc.). Give a brief explanation why you chose the play and it is highly recommended to add an appropriate image or GIF.
Here we go.
Best Cleveland Athlete All-Star / Pro Bowl Performances
Joe: Kyrie Irving wins the 2014 NBA All-Star Game MVP. As the starting point guard for the Eastern Conference, Kyrie Irving put up 31 points and 14 assists in his MVP performance. The fact that Irving won the NBA All-Star Game MVP in just his second All-Star game appearance was great and exciting to watch. But, the biggest impact the performance had on me was the fact that we were looking at another franchise player after losing LeBron James to Miami. It validated his level of talent and how good he can be when he plays alongside better players. It was sort of a glimpse into the future to when Irving formed the Big 3 with James and Kevin Love.
Pat: The year is 1997. The place was Jacobs Field in Cleveland. It was the bottom of the seventh inning with the American League all stars tied 1-1 with the National League all stars, and big Sandy Alomar Jr. dwarfing the plate. There were two outs and one man on base, and Alomar had a 2-2 count before hammering a low breaking ball from the Giants’ Shawn Estes into left center field to give the American League a two-run lead and the eventual win. It’s actually the only performance in an all-star game in any sport that I can vividly remember because it was one of the heroes from my hometown team in my hometown stadium with the entire country watching. Alomar isn’t the first name that anyone comes up with when remembering the Cleveland Indians teams of the 1990s and 2000s, but he was as important as anyone. Aside from being a reliable hitter year in and year out, he handled the pitching staff with excellence and threw out would-be base stealers by the barrel. He was the glue that kept those teams together, and it was commonplace for Alomar to be the one to make the big hit in spite of his place toward the end of the batting order. The 1997 All Star Game was a time for Alomar to show the world what he was doing regularly on WUAB.
Josh: When Cleveland Indians ace Corey Kluber pitched one inning in the 2016 All-Star Game, an inning in which he recorded a shutout and had one strikeout, no one in Cleveland really though much of it. Little did they know, that win would lead to the Indians getting home field advantage in the World Series against the Chicago Cubs. While Kluber and company may have lost Game 7, Indians fans will always remember that special night in Progressive Field, whether they were in attendance, watching it on television, or listening to Tom Hamilton on the radio. The comeback, Rajai Davis’ game-tying home run, the electric atmosphere; whatever it was, it was a night that many will never forget.
Kluber’s one inning in the mid-summer classic may have seemed like something small, but it almost led to one of the most special moments in Cleveland sports history.
Michael: Bernie Kosar quarterback skills competition
I cannot tell you the year, nor can I provide video evidence that the event ever existed. Yet, there is a vivid recollection in my memory of Bernie Kosar competing against Jim Kelly, Randall Cunningham, Warren Moon, and Dan Marino in a quarterback skills competition sometime in the early 90s in the week leadup to the Pro Bowl.1 The competition was setup to be an obstacle course with the quarterback needing to navigate the course and hit targets with passes at certain markers. My memory has Kosar plodding along to the ridiculous point of Marino appearing to be nimble in comparison. However, Kosar also was the only passer to hit each mark on the first try. I have no idea why I remember this last place finish, but it remains one of the better descriptions of his playing style.
- Kosar only was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1987, but I am fairly certain team selection was not a prerequisite to compete in the events. Much like how the NBA currently allows non-Allstars to compete in the dunk contest and such. [↩]