PHILADELPHIA — For most of the first five years of his career, Kyrie Irving was an enigmatic player. Sure, his brilliant ball handling, hilarious Uncle Drew ad campaign and fast-selling sneakers made him a star on the streets and on social media, but his lack of defense, inefficient shooting and disappointing assist totals called into question his real value among more astute observers and stat heads. Our last point guard ranking had no idea what to do with him, and ultimately left him out of the top 10, for example.
But with one instantly legendary shot, everything changed.
Combined with Kyrie playing the best defense of his career during those finals (against a weakened Steph Curry), that shot changed the narrative. Kyrie was, inarguably, a guy who could win an NBA title as the second-best player on a team. The irony of it all is that the shot was classic bad Kyrie — contested, without ball movement, and fading away, as inefficient as it gets.
The playoffs have always proven that sometimes you just need a guy to do something individually spectacular, and just as LeBron had his chasedown block, Kyrie capped off the series with a moment that was thoroughly him.