Kyrie Irving is having quite a summer. After agreeing to a five-year, $90 million extension with the Cleveland Cavaliers on July 1st, the 22 year-old All-Star learned he’d be playing with LeBron James. And as Irving trains with USA Basketball this week in advance of September’s FIBA World Cup, it appears ever likely that Kevin Love will be his teammate, too.
You might think a reigning All-Star MVP that just signed a near nine-figure contract would react to James’ decision to play for his team with a cool nonchalance. But not Irving. In a wide-ranging story on his increasingly wild summer, Irving told CBS Sports’ Ken Berger that he was “speechless” upon LeBron’s announcement.
“At first you were speechless; you couldn’t believe it,” Irving said. “I’ve been watching LeBron for a while now and now that I’m going to be running alongside him and being his point guard, it’s an honor and hopefully we can do great things.”
Players are human, after all. Imagine if you’d played for a losing team your entire, young career and recently been entrusted with its future, only to have the world’s best player join you to lead it just days later. Happiness, pride, and even relief would overwhelm you. And it would seem like a dream, too, but Irving is living it. These are good times for the Cavs, and they’ll likely only get better as days turn into months and years.
That’s true whether Cleveland trades for Love or otherwise. Andrew Wiggins was the number one pick of a loaded draft for a reason – he not only has the ability develop into the rare two-way superstar, but help Irving and James immediately as the Cavs rise to prominence. But Love offers even more immediate assistance, and Irving speaks glowingly of his fit with Cleveland.
“We all know on and off the court how great of a player Kevin is,” Irving said. “He’s just a great player to be around. He knows the game. You watch him on film and he does a ton of things well, so obviously he would add a lot of versatility out there on the court at the four or five spot for our team. If it happens, great. But if it doesn’t, we’re going to go with the pieces that we have.”
Suddenly demoted from his position as lone face of the franchise, Irving is saying and doing all of the right things. Humility in NBA stars is hardly so rare as detractors would have you believe, but the sense of perspective and sheer joy he exudes in discussing the state of the Cavs is still a great sign for his future.
It was mere months ago that some believed Irving’s days in Cleveland could be numbered. After such a fruitful summer, though, that negativity is barely a foggy memory for Irving and the Cavs. Their minds are likely somewhere different entirely, doing what could only be deemed as irrational in the spring: dreaming of a championship sooner instead of later.
Will Irving mesh well with James?
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