Call it student versus teacher, new school versus old school or whatever else you deem fit, but last night one of the true bright stars for the future of the NBA took it to one of the best of his generation.
Even Kyrie Irving couldn’t hold back how fun and special a match-up like this can be.
“It was definitely fun playing against such a great point guard in Steve Nash,” he said. “I have been watching him for so long. Now that I am playing against him it was surreal.”
In pre-game, Cleveland Cavaliers rookie Kyrie Irving admitted playing against the former two-time MVP Steve Nash would be an “honor.” The pleasure was all Irving’s at the end as his Cavaliers beat the Phoenix Suns 101-90. The story was within the game though.
From the opening tip all the way to the plays that sealed the game, Irving took over with poise and a calm seldom seen by a rookie. Despite Nash’s status in the basketball community, Irving was all business, exposing Nash’s age and showing potential greatness.
Like he said after the game, “Once you are out there, you are in the game, I am a competitor and as well as he is.”
The new Dime cover boy exploded for a career-high 26 points while dishing out six assists (He’s now scored 20-plus in three straight games). He led the Cavaliers in scoring and assists in his best game as a pro. When the game got close in the fourth quarter they turned to the dynamic rookie to close the Suns out. His attack mentality led to two short jumpers and the final blow, a pass to teammate Anderson Varejao with just under a minute to play.
But one thing to know about an old dog, they do not go down without a fight.
Nash was unable to stay in-front of Irving all game, but he returned the favor by throwing him through screen after screen, setting his teammates up with 15 assists. He was a true wizard with the ball, showing the young guy how it is done (despite turning 38 in a few weeks).
When Nash debuted in the NBA in 1996 with the Suns, it was a different time in basketball and the world. Back then Irving was only four years old and probably couldn’t even bounce a basketball. But a lot of time and practice has brought him to the NBA, and on Thursday night he dribbled the ball to wherever he wanted, scoring at will.
The student got the best of the master in this exchange and is continuing to learn, get better and get to the point that maybe in his 16th year in the NBA some young up-and-comer will be taking aim at him.
Even after the battle, Irving still has the same savvy and respect for Nash, “It was an honor playing against him.”
What’s more impressive: Irving taking control of the Cavs so soon or Nash continuing to be Nash this late in his career?
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