Prayer For A Perfect Season, HBO’s excellent documentary about last year’s St. Patrick team, was a reminder that a highly successful basketball program doesn’t necessarily insure parochial schools against financial hardship – especially with the economy currently the way it is.
In North Jersey alone, Paterson Catholic shut its doors last year, while 2011 national champion St. Anthony is constantly on the bubble – even with the legendary Bob Hurley working on its behalf. St. Patrick, founded in 1863, is dealing with some of the same difficulties, while attempting to launch a whole new era after longtime coach Kevin Boyle took a new opportunity at Montverde Academy in Florida.
On Tuesday night, alumni and supporters attended a fundraising dinner, silent auction and screening of Prayer For A Perfect Season. Among those in attendance was the school’s best-known recent graduate, 2011 No. 1 pick Kyrie Irving. In-between posing for pictures and signing basketballs for the school to auction, Kyrie took a few minutes to discuss his ties to St. Pat’s, his year at Duke, what he’s been up to, and his thoughts on becoming the new face of the Cavs.
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Dime: How does it feel to help support St. Pat’s?
Kyrie Irving: It definitely feels good. I was at St. Patrick for two and a half years, and it still holds a special place for me. I love St. Patrick with all my heart, and without this school, I wouldn’t be where I am, or the person I am today, so I really appreciate coming back and giving back to the fundraiser.
Dime: How would you feel if St. Pat’s went the way of Paterson Catholic?
KI: There’s so much history as part of St. Patrick High School. We’ve had so many great players that have done great things in this world, not only in basketball. We have a lot of tremendous students that have come out of St. Patrick, and I’m blessed enough to have a special place in their history, so I don’t want St. Patrick to close.
Dime: What have you been up to?
KI: I’m down at Duke, just trying to finish out my sophomore year. That’s basically what I’ve been doing, just working out.
Dime: Regarding your playing career at Duke, do you think sometimes about what could have been if you hadn’t hurt your foot and the team had been together the whole time?
KI: I just believe, and I think everyone knew it, that if I had played the whole season, we would have gone undefeated, we would have won a national championship, and I think we would have been one of the best Duke teams ever. I mean, we had me, Kyle [Singler], Nolan [Smith], two of the Plumlee brothers. And we were all young, but we were all bonding so well in the beginning of the season that nobody was beating us. I mean, we were winning games by probably an average of 30 points in the first several games I was playing. So it was a special opportunity, but I think God puts us in different positions. Honestly, I could look back at what could have been, but right now I’m in the future, and that’s what I’m looking forward to.
Dime: What did you gain from your year at Duke?
KI: My being a part of this team, even being hurt, was so special for me. First of all, I got to be a regular student. Though I had a lot of rehab to do, I had a lot more free time on my hands, so a lot of opportunities I wouldn’t have had outside of the game, I got to experience. That’s why I love Duke so much â€“ when I was hurt, I was still a part of the program, but I got to experience so many other things as well. It was special for me, and I had a great time. That’s why I’m back at Duke. I didn’t leave (for the NBA) because I didn’t want to be there, it’s because it was the best opportunity for me and my family.