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After helping to lead USA Basketball to a gold medal at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup and earning tournament MVP honors along the way, Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers) today was named the 2014 USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year. The USA Basketball Board of Directors is responsible for selecting its annual award winners.
“It’s truly an honor and a blessing to be among such a great lineage of award winners, and USA Basketball was the best experience of my life thus far, just being a part of a team that’s bigger than myself,” Irving said. “The sacrifice we all had to make in order to make that team work and the adversity that we faced – and we came home with a gold medal. We were together through it all, and we won a gold medal together, so I’m going to remember it for the rest of my life.”
As a member of the 2014 USA Basketball World Cup Team, Irving started in all nine games and averaged 12.1 points, 2.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.9 steals in 24.4 minutes per game to help lead the USA to a 9-0 record and gold medal from Aug. 30-Sept. 14 in Bilbao, Barcelona and Madrid, Spain. The first-place finish qualified the USA for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.
Irving was named MVP after a gold-medal-game performance that saw him score a game-high 26 points and record four assists while shooting 10-of-13 from the field, including a USA World Cup record 6-of-6 from 3-point.
“Kyrie truly was a joy to watch throughout the FIBA World Cup this past summer and especially in the gold medal game,” said USA Basketball CEO/Executive Director Jim Tooley. “He is very deserving of this honor, and we are proud to recognize him as the 2014 USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year.”
The 2014 gold medal was Irving’s first title in senior-level international competition, and his second gold medal overall with USA Basketball.
“I think Kyrie came of age,” said USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Duke University), who was named as a 2014 USA Basketball Co-National Coach of the Year. “He’s a terrific player, but he became a great player during the summer of 2014. I think sometimes to become that great player, you need a stage to do it on, and the stage was the World Cup. He performed his best on that stage, and now that’s the level he is expected to play at. I’m really proud of him.”
USA Basketball’s Male Athlete of the Year Award was established in 1980 to recognize a USA Basketball athlete who, during the year of the award, made a significant impact on the success of his team’s performance.
Throughout the USA’s nine FIBA World Cup wins, Irving shot 60.9 percent from 3-point (14-23 3pt FGs) to set the U.S. event career record for 3-point percentage, and he shot 56.3 percent from the field (45-80 FGs) overall.
Among all players in the 16-team field, he ranked fourth in 3-point percentage (.609), fifth in steals (1.9) and tied for 11th in assist/turnover ratio 2.3.
He reached double-digit scoring in six games, and his 26 points in the final were the most points scored by a U.S. player throughout the tournament. He also scored 18 points in the semifinal win against Lithuania and dished out six assists to go with 11 points versus Ukraine in a preliminary round victory.
Averaging 10.7 points and a team-high 4.3 assists per game while shooting 63.6 percent from the field, Irving also helped the USA to a 4-0 exhibition record with wins over Brazil (95-78, Aug. 16, Chicago, Ill.), Dominican Republic (105-62, Aug. 20, New York, N.Y.), Puerto Rico (112-86, Aug. 22, New York, N.Y.) and Slovenia (101-71, Aug. 26, Gran Canaria, Spain).
As a member of four USA Basketball teams, Irving is 19-0 all time in a USA jersey. In addition to his FIBA World Cup gold, he participated in the 2013 USA Men’s National Team min-camp; was a member of the 2012 USA Select Team that trained against the U.S. Men’s Olympic Team prior to the 2012 London Olympic Games; he won a gold medal and compiled a 5-0 record at the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship; and he helped the USA to a 101-97 win over the World Select Team in the 2010 Nike Hoop Summit.
Irving completed his third NBA season in 2013-14, all with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and started in all 71 games played and averaged 20.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 1.5 steals per game. H was named 2014 All-NBA honorable mention and was selected as a 2014 NBA Eastern Conference All-Star.
So far this season, he is averaging 20.8 points, 5.01 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game (as of Dec. 12).