Kyrie Irving's Good Day
For all his flashiness on the court, Kyrie Irving can be a pretty laid-back, understated guy off it. That explains why – after having the 48-hour run that he just did – Irving took the stage at the Greater Cleveland Sports Awards and said: “I had a pretty good day.”
Yes, that’s fair to say.
On Tuesday night, after returning from a five-game road trip, Kyrie exploded for 40 points and almost single-handedly beat Boston at The Q. Wednesday was pretty uneventful. But on Thursday night, Kyrie pulled the perfecta – being named a reserve to the Eastern Conference All-Star Squad before arriving at the GCS Awards banquet, where he was named Cleveland’s Professional Athlete of the Year.
To take the latter honor, Irving beat out Browns placekicker, Phil Dawson, and his injured Cavaliers teammate, Anderson Varejao. The award was presented by Coach Byron Scott and GM Chris Grant.
“Getting Professional Athlete of the Year is just the cherry on top,” continued the reigning Rookie of the Year. “It’s been one of the best days of my life – to be recognized in my own community and to be recognized worldwide. It feels good.”
The 20-year-old Irving is averaging 23.7 ppg – tops among NBA point guards. The former Blue Devil is averaging 5.7 assists, 3.6 boards and 1.8 steals per contest. He’s shooting 84 percent from the stripe and almost 40 percent from long-distance. He’s one of only two players in the East – joining the Cavs’ last All-Star, LeBron James – who’s averaging over 20 points and five helpers per game.
Cavs fans have also seen how good the super sophomore is in the clutch. As effective as Irving can be through the first three quarters, he’s even better in money time. Kyrie has the third-highest points per game average in the fourth quarter in the East at 6.1 – which is the highest among all point guards in the NBA.
Irving is the sixth-youngest player to be named to the All-Star squad and he joins four other first-timers for the Eastern Conference, joining New York’s Tyson Chandler, Chicago’s Joakim Noah, Indiana’s Paul George and Jrue Holiday of the Sixers.
It won’t be Kyrie’s first trip to All-Star Weekend, however. One year ago, Irving and Draft classmate, Tristan Thompson, made the trip to the midseason classic in Orlando where they participated in – and dominated – the Rising Stars Challenge. Thompson led his squad in scoring with 20 points, but Irving was utterly unconscious, going 12-of-13 from the floor, including 8-for-8 from beyond the arc.
After winning MVP of that game, Kyrie – who always gives love to his adopted NBA hometown – didn’t want to pose with the trophy covering the “CELVEALND” on his jersey. On Thursday night at the GCSA, Irving once again cited his city.
“It’s a big deal for me and a big deal for the city of Cleveland,” said the 6-3, 191-pounder. “It means a lot. Just to be picked as an All-Star for my first time. I’m turning 21 on March 23 and to be with those guys, to see those names on TNT, was truly a blessing.”
Irving said the first two calls he made after being named to the East roster was to his girlfriend and his father. He admitted that the calls got a bit emotional. Kryie also heard from his former college coach, Mike Krzyzewski, who sent him a text … maybe.
“I don’t think (Krzyzewski)’s ever sent (a text) to one of his ex-players,” joked Irving. “I think he had one of his assistants do it.”
Irving recognizes he’ll be going against the game’s best, but when asked if he was nervous going against fellow All-Stars, he demurred: “I just hope I don’t airball my first shot. That’s what I’m really worried about now.”
Before Kyrie can make the trip to Houston for the 62nd All-Star Game in Houston on February 17, he’ll have to acclimate a pair of new teammates and continue to try to accumulate some notches in the win column for Cleveland.
But on Thursday, it was time to celebrate the Cavaliers’ first-time All-Star on his “good day.”
“To achieve this personal goal is a big deal for me and big deal for our organization,” concluded Kyrie. “For Cleveland to be recognized like this and for me to represent Cleveland in the All-Star Game means a lot.”