CHICAGO – Knicks rookie shooter RJ Barrett spoke before the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday about eagerly defending his Duke Zion Williamson.
And he was serious. Williamson became noticeably excited at Barrett after he was about to look for another of his patented alley jams. Barrett held Williamson tight and didn't let him jump to another climax. Williamson shook Barrett's head and grimaced.
Ironically, the next time the ball was held, Barrett Williamson allowed the ball to be immersed after he put it in.
"When he stopped me on this fast break, I was like that, man, you're the last person I thought would do that, but he let me get the next one," Williamson said. "It's just brothers playing around."
Barrett, who finished with a 27-point world team high but missed all four of his 3-point points, explained his aggressive move to the No. 1 in the draft that had just returned from knee surgery.
"I shot a 3 in the corner just before," said Barrett. "I don't even know if it was [Zion], but someone in the square was talking rubbish and then I missed it. When I saw him running, I thought, no, he won't dip it in. "
Williamson finished with 14 points and even made an edge on one of his tip dunks. But a full-blown dunk competition broke out in the last few minutes and the World Team had Williamson miss three circus attempts.
Barrett, who also had three steals, six rebounds and five assists, clearly played the game with more serious intentions. Barrett tore the hole like it was an NBA game and found little resistance.
"What I liked is that he came to the competition tonight," said world coach Adrian Griffin after losing the world between 151 and 131. "I looked into his eyes. He wanted to strive for it. "
Griffin said if the world had held the top, Barrett would have been MVP.