Replacing a superstar isn’t easy, but Kyrie Irving is well on his way to becoming one in his own right.
The other day, someone asked me a simple question.
“Outside of the usual suspects, who would you pay to see play in person?”
The “usual suspects” referred to here are obvious. LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Carmelo Anthony. You know, guys of that nature. The ones who are either referred to by one name or a cool-ass nickname. Team-wise, it’s definitely the Houston Rockets. One, because of James Harden (that’s not my answer). And two, because I know I’m probably the biggest Chandler Parsons fan outside of Florida alumni and members of the Parsons family. Individual player-wise, and this actually is was my answer, it’s without a doubt Kyrie Irving.
Friday night was a blur. I planned on going to the Wizards/Lakers game but couldn’t fathom paying $80 for seats that would’ve put me at in the very last row of the 400 section. In other words, Kobe and Dwight would’ve looked like the same person from my seat. At least until they went to the free throw line. Plans were altered, and I ended up at this place called Penn Social for my boy Hype’s birthday, about a block or so away from the Verizon Center. The drinks were cheap. The people were great. The only downer was the brawl at the end of the night. I’ve see bar fights before, but given the events which happened in Connecticut at Sandy Hook Elementary not even 24 hours earlier, maybe I had the false hope people would chill and not let their emotions get the best of them for one night.
Saturday night, however, was relaxing. The usual trip to the Black man’s holy grounds – the barbershop – was made. I even hit the local sushi spot to taking full advantage of its all-you-can-eat deal. Later that evening, the Knicks and Cavs squared off in the Garden. The Knicks continued their current magical season with a 103-102 victory, sans first month-and-a-half MVP Carmelo Anthony, thanks to Anderson Varejao’s missed free throw with a second left. None of that mattered though. They’re two teams headed in two completely different directions. Cleveland is 5-20 and appears destined for another top five pick in June. New York is thinking Finals. This, on the other hand, did:
41 points, five rebounds, five assists, 15-25 FG, 5-8 3PT, 6-7 FT
Since the 1985-86 season, a line of 41-5-5 has only been posted 11 times. By who? Michael Jordan, LeBron James and – wait for it – Antoine Walker. Dropping 40 in the Garden is impressive however it’s done. Kyrie made it 12 and did so with a broken jaw and donning the Zorro mask Kobe used in Detroit last year. He embraced the electricity MSG emits, either creating legends or lambasting failures. Irving legitimately spawned the world’s most famous arena into Rucker Park. Ray Felton was on a string all night. Jason Kidd met the same fate. He penetrated, often finding the open man. His inside game was working as was his outside game. And that three pointer he hit near the end of the fourth quarter where he spun at half court taking the ball in between his legs and hitting nothing but the bottom of the net? Dirtier than an Atlanta health clinic following Freaknik. The only aspect he needs to improve is defense, the same trait another previous Cleveland #1 overall pick improved upon from his rookie season making him one of the most fierce defensive specimens in basketball.