With his first season nearly in the books, Kyrie Irving â€“ the league’s No. 1 overall draft pick and likely Rookie of the Year, as well as our former cover boy â€“ chatted with us about his young career thus far. The Cleveland Cavaliers point guard won’t be leading his squad to the playoffs just yet, but he does have a full 82-game schedule to look forward to next year and a new partnership with Pepsi MAX. He also had a few things to say about Steve Nash, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, LeBron James and his NBA Finals prediction.
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Dime: What are you up to right now?
Kyrie Irving: I’m in Memphis.
Dime: How are you feeling about your rookie season as it comes to a close?
KI: My rookie season has been fun. It’s been a long ride. It’s been truly a grind, from a mental standpoint and physical standpoint. I’ve learned a lot, as a person and as a basketball player. I wouldn’t change anything from my rookie season.
Dime: What do you think you gained the most as a player this year?
KI: I feel like I gained the most from the experience, first of all from going through a lockout and a condensed season and playing so many games in so few nights. Playing the best every single night and being prepared for playing against the best on a day-to-day basis. So it’s been an intriguing season for me and my teammates and I’ve learned a lot.
Dime: What are you most excited about in terms of your relationship with Pepsi MAX moving forward?
KI: The commercial that we shot when I went to Miami was just a fun activity that I got to do with my agent and a couple friends of mine. It was a great experience. And just thinking about the future plans with Pepsi MAX and what we can accomplish is unbelievable. It will be something special having a traditional partnership and I think we can get a lot done.
Dime: Any hints of what we can look forward to on Instagram or with the upcoming Twitter Q&A you’ll be hosting on the Pepsi MAX account (@PepsiMAX)?
KI: It will be about my final week as a rookie, and I’m going to make it fun. Can’t really give any hints away but it will be a fun week on Instagram. Hopefully I make the “popular” page.
Dime: What’s been the toughest team you faced this year?
KI: The toughest team? Probably the two toughest teams I faced were Philadelphia and San Antonio.
Dime: Who was the toughest guy for you to guard?
KI: Probably Steve Nash.
Dime: What was your favorite moment from this past season?
KI: Winning the MVP at All-Star Weekend at the Rookie-Sophomore Game.
Dime: You were high school teammates with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. What are you expecting to see from him next season in the NBA?
KI: I’m just interested to see how he develops. He’s so young and he’s going to have to learn a lot coming to the NBA so young. The rookies coming in this season, that are about to get drafted, are going to have a longer grace period than the rookies that got drafted last season in terms of training camp and the opportunity to learn on the fly. But I think him and some of those other guys coming out (early) in this class will be fine.