Rod Strickland tells Scoop B Radio that Kyrie Irving would be “a problem in 90s NBA era. Press Play Below To Listen!
If you’re tardy to the party, retired NBA legend, Rod Strickland is Kyrie Irving’s godfather.
Strickland grew up with Irving’s father, Drederick Irving in the Bronx, NY.
“I’ve known the Irving family since third grade,” Rod Strickland told me on the Scoop B Radio podcast.
“So I knew Kyrie before Kyrie knew himself.”
Added Strickland: “We showed Drederick, Kyrie could ball when he was real little, and I told him that one day he’s going to make you some money, because he was handling the ball really well at a real young age.”
Drafted by the New York Knicks with the 19th pick in the 1988 NBA Draft, Strickland, a 17 year NBA vet, averaged 13 points, three rebounds, and seven assists.
Post-NBA career, Strickland became an assistant coach under John Calipari with stops with the Kentucky Wildcats and Memphis Tigers.
He’s played against Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan, was teammates with Chris Webber, Mitch Richmond and Rasheed Wallace.
Million dollar question: Would Kyrie Irving be able to handle the competition in the 90s?
“Absolutely,” said Strickland.
“He would’ve been a problem. I mean just look at the game. He can shoot the ball, he finishes with the bucket in, he can take contact, he has a mid-range, he can pass the ball, get him out in an open court, so he would check all the boxes over there. And he’s physical! So that physical stuff that was going on back in the day, let’s just say, I handled it pretty well and he’s got a lot more stuff than me, as far as maneuvering and getting in the paint and getting by people. I think he would’ve been as special as he is now. I think he’s one of those guys, just because of his skill level and physicality.”
Strickland, the NBA’s assists leader in 1998 says that his first glimpses of Irving play were during his high school days at Elizabeth, New Jersey’s St. Patricks High School and while playing in LeBron James’ summer hoops camps.
“Once I saw him at the LeBron James camp, I mean he was ridiculous,” said Strickland.
“I saw the right hand, the left hand, all the layups, and how he maneuvered. And it was funny because I was having conversations with people and they were telling me: ‘he’s not a point guard.’ But he is a point guard and I’ve seen the instincts. He made passes, but he was such a gifted scorer that he could put the ball in the hole. But I knew he was special right away. There are some things that everybody’s not doing, so when I see somebody play with both hands, the way he was playing with it in high school, that’s special. You don’t see that a lot.”
This summer, Irving and Strickland birthed the Kyrie and Rod Strickland Basketball League in the Bronx, a tribute to where the seed was planted in NYC, to West Orange, New Jersey to Duke University, Cleveland and now Boston.
“I love what he’s doing as a young man and as a hooper,” said Strickland.
“I give Drederick all the credit in the world because I watched him raise him. Single parent, mom’s passed and I watched Dederick as a single parent. We used to call him Mr. Mom. I watched him, and I’m proud of him and how he raised him and his sister, Asia.”