With 55 seconds left in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, Kyrie Irving sized up Steph Curry and sank arguably the second biggest shot in NBA Finals History (Jordan’s shot over Bryon Russell in ’98 is #1). The dagger 3 would erase all the ills of Cleveland sports over the last 52 years.
Following Game 5’s outbreak, I couldn’t imagine Kyrie having a bigger Finals moment than “The Shot”. His eyes seemed to light up and get bigger as the moment intensified. That is seldom seen at that stage by a player with so little playoff experience. It did not matter who was in front of Kyrie, he knew whatever he did, it was going in. His full arsenal was on display for the entire world to see. He couldn’t have picked a grander stage to put forth his own Mona Lisa.
The biggest story heading into the 2016-17 NBA season will of course be the juggernaut out in the Bay Area. Kevin Durant’s unprecedented move to the Golden State Warriors will largely dominate the airwaves all year. I on the other hand, feel as if we will see an all out renegade version of Kyrie Irving next season. Playing with LeBron James is a gift and a curse all to itself. Prior to their championship, there were calls for the Cavs front office to field offers for Kyrie Irving. We heard all the critics voice their frustrations with Uncle Drew’s game — he’s not a winner, he doesn’t play winning basketball, the Cavs need a true point guard, etc…
Kyrie is a champion. All of these criticisms go smooth out of the window. Kyrie Irving just put together a Finals of epic proportions next to LeBron James. Think about that for a second. Dwyane Wade, in all his greatness, never had a Finals quite like Kyrie Irving just had in his first full NBA Finals experience. The 2016 NBA Playoffs in my opinion, were just the beginning of the Kyrie Irving era of elite point guard play.
Being from Jersey myself, I appreciate Jersey guards to the fullest. If you’ve ever played ball in New Jersey, whether organized or pick up, you’ll understand this next point. Jersey guards, especially the good ones, seem to carry an added air of arrogance when they hoop. From the way we dribble, set up our shots, the side commentary we give out, you can spot a Jersey guard from a mile away. Kyrie’s game screams Jersey loud and clear. He’s just amazing offensively. Cocky, boastful, arrogant… All with reason. No guard in the NBA is as offensively gifted as Kyrie Irving is. Steph Curry is amazing in his own right, but if I could steal anyone’s offensive game, I’m picking Kyrie.
Next season, Kyrie Irving won’t need LeBron’s acceptance anymore. He won’t need that tough love anymore. He’s a CHAMPION… Mamba Mentality in tact. Epic Finals under his belt. I look for Kyrie to have the MVP Caliber season that LeBron James proclaimed he could have. Since being drafted first overall back in 2011, we’ve all known how gifted Kyrie Irving is. We all waited impatiently for him to put together a stellar, injury-free season. Fresh off an NBA Finals for the ages, I truly believe we’ll see some unreal basketball displayed by Kyrie Irving next season. He’ll be oozing with the type of confidence that a championship brings.