Be Happy About Kyrie Irving
These past few weeks have been of the whirlwind variety for the Cleveland Cavaliers and their fans. Surprisingly for Cleveland loyalists, all of the team developments were pretty exciting and positive. The Feel Good Express took off from the station with the hiring of David Blatt, the o̶f̶f̶e̶n̶s̶i̶v̶e̶ d̶e̶f̶e̶n̶s̶i̶v̶e̶ basketball wundercoach from Europe. The journey picked up steam when the runner-up for the head coaching job Tyronn Lue was brought in as the top assistant on Blatt’s staff. When Andrew Wiggins was selected first overall in the NBA draft last Thursday night, I was convinced I was dreaming (especially since Wiggins had been my top choice over Embiid from the moment we defied the odds and won the draft lottery). Finally, the cherry on the wine and gold sundae came in the wee hours of Tuesday morning when Kyrie Irving agreed to a max contract extension with the Cavs. (If you really want to feel good about the direction of the Cavs, read this inside look at what took place the night Irving agreed to sign his extension). That’s right: an up-and-coming stud in this league chose to stay in Cleveland for as long as he could at this point in his career. Surely, all Cleveland fans were rejoicing and praising the basketball gods for smiling down upon us, albeit in the offseason, and for showing us a light at the end of this four-year-long tunnel. I couldn’t wait to see comment boards lighting up with praise and optimism and…
Wait, what?? What the hell is a hype machine? Does this mean over-hyped or overrated? Kyrie Irving, the 2011-2012 Rookie of the Year, the two time all-star in three professional seasons, a 20+ point per game scorer, and the sole reason the Cavs have received any prime time TV slots in the past three years is overrated? Any hype wouldn't be a product of Kyrie but rather the media. And overpriced? You don't think at least 25 of the 30 teams in the NBA would give him a max deal? Are you waiting for Norman Dale to lead the Hickory roster into Cleveland and go toe-to-toe with the big guys because, doggonnit, that's how it's supposed to be done? Anyway, agree to disagree. One isolated commenter is easy to ignore so…
Recent internet comments aside, this fan barrage aimed at Irving started last year and I just don’t get it. It’s as if fans were giving him the post-Cleveland LeBron treatment before his rookie contract was even up. I know Cleveland fans are continuously priming themselves for terrible sporting news because it’s all they’ve ever known, but let’s at least wait until Irving does or says something that warrants these attacks on his character. He’s been the best player on the team since the moment he was drafted and just signed on to stay in Cleveland until 2020.
Although his points were down this past season compared to the previous one (from 22.5 to 20.8) his assists were up (from 5.9 to 6.1) and his turnovers were down (3.2 to 2.7).
“DRRR BUT HIS BODY LANGUAGE IS TERRIBLE!!! HE DOESN’T CARE ABOUT THE TEAM!!!!”
Really? Who are you? Sigmund Freaking Freud? Did you study human physiology and its relationship to the human psyche? Or is it possible that terrible team play and the team underperforming may take its toll on a 22-year-old? I couldn’t care less if he had a frown on his face for 48 minutes as long as he’s producing. (OK, I would totally care if there was something seriously depressing him because that sucks).
“BUT HE’S SUPPOSED TO BE THE LEADER OF THIS TEAM AND LEAD BY EXAMPLE!! THIS IS HIS TEAM AND HE CAN’T SHOW SAD HUMAN EMOTION LIKE THAT!! HE’S NOT TOUGH!! LEADER!!!!”
He’s 22 years old.
“BUT HE’S SUPPOSED TO BE A LEADER!!! HE MAKES A LOT OF MONEY!!!”
…he’s 22 years old. Beer pong, bar tabs, and club sports aside, what did you lead at that age? How mature were you? Were you a well-rounded adult or did you have more to learn? Yes, I would love to see Kyrie take charge of the team, will everyone to end this horrid streak of terrible basketball, and excrete leadership skills that the best players on their respective teams exhibit once they have been around the league for a while. But it looks like we’ll have to wait at least until this upcoming season for those traits to develop. Good thing we have time to wait. Because he’s ONLY 22 YEARS OLD. And absurdly good at basketball.
“HE’S SUCH A BALL HOG WHO DOESN’T TRUST HIS TEAMMATES!! I DON’T CARE WHAT THE STATS SAY; HE’S TAKEN A STEP BACKWARDS!”
Yes, under Mike Brown and his what-the-butt-is-offense philosophy, Kyrie didn’t develop like many would have hoped last season. His numbers were on par with the previous season for the most part but the aesthetics were missing – and I’m not just talking about game-winning shots and SportsCenter Top Plays. There was less of a flow to the game compared to his first couple seasons. It almost reminded me of how the best player on the Cavs looked from 2005-2010 when there was a certain coach in place who had no grasp of ball movement or other fundamental tenants of successful offensive gameplay…
So I get it, bitter Cleveland fans. You began to prepare yourselves for disappointment in this first big offseason since The Decision midway through the regular season. You did such a great job preparing that you actually believed the nonsense used to rationalize why we’d be better off without Kyrie. You listened to everyone except Kyrie Irving say that Kyrie Irving wanted out. But guess what? Irving is staying in Cleveland. He has coaches who know the point guard position and have an actual offensive philosophy. He has a General Manager who has a plan and vision and is working to assemble a team whose whole is greater than the sum of its parts. He has a running mate in the most hyped player coming out of the draft since himself who also happens to fit what Griffin is trying to build. Let’s embrace the young developing phenom who wants to play in Cleveland rather than search for moles on the model.