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Bane’s presence felt on All-Star Weekend’s Rising Stars night

CLEVELAND – NBA All-Star Game Weekend is like a convention for basketball junkies, with this season’s made extra special by its intersection with the 75th Anniversary of the association.

Here in Cleveland this weekend, it is not uncommon to walk into legends of the game such as Oscar Robinson, Robert Parish and Rick Barry just hanging out in the lobby of the hotel.

For first- and second-year players such Memphis’ Desmond Bane, the All-Star Weekend Rising Stars competition – held Friday Night – was a chance for a large swath of the NBA fan base to take in their burgeoning star status and exchange banter about who among them might be headed to the Hall of Fame.

The Rising Stars competition is a mini-tournament. After the Grizzlies’ final game before the All-Star Game break (a loss to Portland), Bane shared the mindset he intended to bring to the game.

“I’m not fixing to be up there dunking and doing those crazy (moves).… I’ll save my juice for Saturday (and the 3-point shooting contest),” said Bane. “That’s the one I want.”

Precious Achiuwa at the Rising Stars game. (Photo: Terry Davis/The New Tri-State Defender)

Bane rolled in the Rising Stars with Team Isaiah, whose namesake is former Detroit Pistons guard Isaiah Thomas, another Hall of Famer. Teaming up with Bane was another face familiar to Memphis-area NBA fans, former University of Memphis Player Precious Achiuwa, who now starts for the Toronto Raptors.

The competition came first from Team Worthy, as in the James Worthy that was an integral part of the Los Angeles Lakers’ Showtime run. The first to score 50 points advanced to the championship game and it went right down to the wire.

Desmond Bane driving to the hoop in the Rising Stars game. (Photo: Terry Davis/The New Tri-State Defender)

With his team trailing 48-49, Bane shifted to drive mode and drew a file on an aggressive move to the basket. He calmly sank the first shot before swishing the second, propelling Team Isaiah to the championship game (50-49).

The battle for the other championship game spot pitted Team Barry (coached by Rick Barry) and Team Payton (guided by Gary Payton). A pair of made free throws by Jae’ Sean Tate gave Team Barry a 50-48 and the championship game berth.

A new All-Star Weekend element was slotted before Team Isaiah and Team Barry squared off for the Rising Stars title. The court was marked with five spots designating where five iconic shots had become part of NBA history. Four two-man teams competed in attempting shots from those marked areas.

Bane and Team Isaiah cohort Tyrese Haliburton (of the Indiana Pacers) beat the time of 49 seconds to win the hardware.  Bane did not have a great shooting performance, but he did hit the clutch shot to secure the win.

In the championship game, Bane and Team Isaiah fell to Team Barry, which featured host-city rising stars Evan Mobley and Isaac Okoro of the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Detroit Pistons’ Cade Cunningham was named the MVP.

Achiuwa emerged as the leading scorer in the championship game with 12 points. Bane scored 10 points in game one and 3 points in the title game, playing every minute of each.

Bane takes the court on Saturday night (Feb. 19) as a participant in the three-point contest. Asked about his participation following the Memphis-Portland game, Bane said he had gotten some practice in during the Grizzlies’ visit to Charlotte.

“(Assistant coach) Darko (Rajaković) had the racks out. I was able to test it out and kind of get a feel for it. Get my little routine in place. Figure out where I put the money ball at. All that good stuff. I feel like I’ve prepared for it.”

Cheering on Bane in Cleveland will be Grizzlies star guard and All-Star starter Ja Morant. Asked last week about what he wanted to accomplish during his All-Star Game appearance, Morant said, “Really just put on for my teammates, my coaching staff, the Grizzlies as a whole, City of Memphis, my family, where I’m from Georgia and South Carolina.

“Just have fun and enjoy it pretty much. I also want that All-Star MVP.”

Saturday night’s All-Star Game Weekend activities begin at 7 p.m. CST on TNT.

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