NEW YORK — So far, All-Star weekend has been a pretty good metaphor for Trey Burke’s career.
A few rough moments and losses.
Some good times.
A lot of competitive fire.
And, perhaps most important, a good attitude encompassing all of the above.
Though he fell short in Saturday’s Skills Challenge and his U.S. team lost the Rising Stars Challenge to the World team, which included Jazz teammates Rudy Gobert and Dante Exum, Burke turned in a good effort and remained positive about the experience.
Just as he has with the beginning of his NBA career, which started with a debut-delaying finger injury, an up-and-down rookie season, and a mix of sweet-and-sour games in his sophomore campaign.
“It’s great. It’s a blessing. It’s like a dream come true participating in All-Star weekend, growing up watching it pretty much every year,” Burke said Saturday night. “It was great to come out here and play in the Rising Stars game and have another shot to get my title back.”
That didn’t happen.
Burke, who won last year in a team competition with Damian Lillard, got off to a rough start in the new format, which pitted players against each other. He quickly weaved through the obstacles while dribbling, but he then missed his first two passes through a cylinder during the passing portion of the event.
That gave his competitor, Milwaukee’s Brandon Knight, a chance to dribble the length of the court for an easy layup and then return to attempt the knockout 3-point shot.
Burke hustled to catch back up to the Bucks’ playmaker, who missed his first 3-point attempt.
But the Jazz player, who’s shooting 31.6 percent from beyond the arc this season, was off on his first try.
That proved to be a costly miss.
Knight drained his next 3-pointer to advance, while Burke bowed out of the first round with repeat dreams dashed.
Burke’s slow start left him wondering what might have happened had he connected on a pass sooner.
“I rushed it,” he said. “I should’ve took my time and tried to shoot it, and I rushed it.”
The weekend was a success overall for Burke, who proved Friday night that he’s on par with the top talent of the NBA’s rookie and sophomore classes.
Burke scored 17 points off the bench with four assists.
But it wasn’t just his performance, which included some poised drives mixed in with some errant passes (three turnovers), that was impressive.
Burke showed fire and determination late in what had mostly been a high-scoring, offense-heavy showcase, a few Gobert blocked shots notwithstanding.
The 22-year-old even flung his arms in frustration when a teammate didn’t get an and-one foul called after making a bucket as the Americans mounted a late-game rally.
Burke, the 2013 NCAA player of the year, wanted to win.
“They might not have did what I did — swing my arms,” he said when asked about that competitive spirit he showed. “But we were all competing the last five, 10 minutes hard.”
While they didn’t overcome that obstacle, Burke and his teammates tried. It’s the same approach he’s taken since being relegated to a reserve role last month.
Burke eagerly showed in the Rising Stars game that he’s not afraid to take on big challenges. The 6-foot-1 player attacked the basket multiple times when his 7-foot-1 French teammate, the Stifle Tower, was patrolling the paint. He even had a highlight-worthy assist when he drove toward Gobert, drawing him away from the basket a bit and then dishing off to a teammate for an easy bucket.
“I made sure I still went at Rudy, even though his presence down there is tremendous, his ability to block shots,” Burke said. “I still let it be known that I’m going to come down there and try to make a play for someone else.”
Burke didn’t always have success against Gobert, though.
“He altered a couple of my shots,” Burke said. “That’s just what he can do.”
Burke said he’s grown from all of the adversity he’s faced as a pro — from the early finger injury to inconsistent play, subpar shooting, a load of losses, seeing a talented 19-year-old (Exum) take his starting spot, and being at a size disadvantage in a big man’s game.
“You’ve just got to get used to it. I think everybody experiences it. You’re not going to have a great game every night,” Burke said when asked about dealing with highs and lows as a young NBA athlete.
“You’re going to have some down nights. You’re going to face adversity. It allows you to grow as a person and as a ballplayer. I think that’s something I’m getting used to, learning how to be more consistent, making better shots and making plays.”
The second-year player is optimistic that his experience at his second All-Star weekend will give him a boost heading to the final portion of the season.
He didn’t win Friday’s game or defend his Skills Challenge title.
But Burke showed he can hold his own against the top talent of his age group.
“It gives you confidence as well,” he said.
It also gave him some good memories, including seeing Steph Curry win the high-profile 3-point contest and Zach LaVine wow everyone with an electrifying dunk contest performance.
“I had a great time,” Burke said. “That’s what it’s all about.”
Burke also received a solid compliment from one of his Skills Challenge competitors.
"Talented basketball player, ultimate competitor, somebody that just plays hard," Suns guard Isaiah Thomas said of Burke. "He's gifted. He's going to be one of the top guards in the league throughout his career."