Born in Melbourne, Australia, Kyrie Irving, a 6’2 guard, was picked 1st overall in the 2011 draft out of Duke University, becoming the franchise cornerstone the Cleveland Cavaliers needed after LeBron James made his decision and left his hometown team almost 2 years prior.
He’s been through a lot of ups and downs throughout his tumultuous career, making some questionable decisions, but he has constantly reminded the world that he is one of the most gifted players in the world. He turns 28 today so let’s look at a timeline of his career and what the future holds for him.
Kyrie started and finished off his short college career at Duke University. Although he only played in 11 games as a freshman, he had shown the basketball world what he was capable of. Playing on a top-seeded Duke team, Kyrie averaged 17.5 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 4.3 assists before his team was knocked out by Arizona in the West Regional Semi-finals.
His proven ability helped Cleveland to make the decision to take him first overall in the stacked 2011 NBA Draft which included the likes of Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson, and Kemba Walker among others.
Early NBA Career:
Kyrie started off his NBA career with a bang, dazzling the world with his other-worldly ball-handling and his unmatched creativity while on the court. He was deemed to be a future top-5 guard in the league, winning rookie of the year (ROTY) while putting up great numbers for a first-year player. He played and started in 51 games, having his season cut short due to multiple injuries that kept him out for several games.
He’s improved every season since although he has become an extremely injury-prone player throughout.
Kyrie Irving was not able to lead the Cavaliers to a playoff spot alone for the next 3 seasons before LeBron James came back to his hometown team.
Height of His Career:
As soon as LeBron James came into town, Kyrie automatically became the second-wheel in Cleveland. LeBron had promised a championship to the city and Kyrie was one of three superstars that would help him bring it home.
Kyrie went on to have some of the best seasons of his career alongside James. Under his wing, Irving learned a lot of valuable things that would help him in life and they also became very close friends. His averages dipped a little in the few seasons he played with LeBron but his overall value to the team had increased significantly, contributing hugely to the success of the team.
The team made it to the finals every year LeBron was in town, with their first appearance being in 2015 against the Golden State Warriors. Kyrie was injured in the finals that year; as a result, the Cavs lost to the Warriors in heartbreaking fashion.
In the 2015-2016 season, the Warriors had a record-breaking season, going 73-9 in the regular season. They easily breezed past through every team in the playoffs until they faced Kyrie and the Cavaliers in the Finals. Cleveland went down 1-3 in the series before LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and the rest of the Cavs squad decided to pick up their game and win some key matches.
Cleveland and forced an improbable Game 7 in the Finals, winning 2 straight games with Kyrie putting up 41 and 23 points in Games 5 and 6 to lead them into Game 7.
In probably the biggest highlight game of his career, both teams were tied 89-89, Kyrie took the ball into his hands, pulled up and drained a stepback 3-pointer over the unanimous MVP of the regular season, Steph Curry, to give Cleveland the lead with only 53 seconds left to play in the fourth quarter of the deciding Game 7. That shot ended up becoming the most important shot in their history as it ended up being the game-winner, helping them end a 50-year sports championship drought in the city. That was the first and only championship he has won in his career until now.
The Next Chapter:
Kyrie went on to play just one more season with the Cavaliers, losing to the Kevin Durant-lead Warriors in the 2017 Finals. Playing as second-wing under LeBron James was becoming too much of a problem for him and he decided to take up a new challenge and try to lead his own team to glory. He requested a trade from the team that drafted, in the summer of 2017.
Fulfilling his request, David Griffin, general manager of the team at that time, traded Kyrie to the Boston Celtics for Isiah Thomas that summer before the season began.
Kyrie had an injury-plagued first season with the Celtics only appearing in 60 games. As soon as Kyrie arrived, there had been murmurs of him being a locker room “poison”. But he later said he felt off because of personal related issues. He led the Celtics to as far as the Western-Conference Finals with an emerging star in Jayson Tatum but couldn’t get much farther than that.
Along with his very deep takes and statements on social media and the rumours circling that he couldn’t lead a team very far by himself, Kyrie had enough and decided to take his talents to Brooklyn, leaving his disastrous experience in Boston behind.
Kyrie signed a max-contract with the Brooklyn Nets in the summer of 2019, teaming up alongside, the currently injured, Kevin Durant. He had a franchise-record 50-points in his debut with his new team injecting a sense of excitement into the fanbase.
But again, injuries hit Irving and he was forced to sit out the majority of the season because of shoulder issues. He played in only 20 games averaging 27.4 points in them. The season had its fair share of drama as he had issues with the coach and implied that the team would need to add more pieces in order to have a legitimate chance to win the chip. With the season suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak, Kyrie now has the opportunity to rest and heal while he waits to join Kevin Durant next season and help lead them to a championship.
Kyrie is a fun, loving and intellectual person who’s willing to share his point of view on different topics to the world. He does a lot of stuff outside of basketball such as helping out UNICEF, an international humanitarian organization as well as helping out his community as a whole.
He just announced that he will be donating $323,000 to feeding America amid the coronavirus pandemic, impacting food resources and helping distribute 250,000 meals in the New York area.
He also has a contract with Nike, designing and releasing some of the best basketball shoes on the market such as the Kyrie 5’s. He has built a tremendous brand and uses his platform to spread awareness on various issues that need to be brought up.
Kyrie is a generational, talented player who will continue to play for at least the next 5-6 years. His next goal is to bring a championship to Brooklyn and continue to inspire the next generation of hoopers around the globe.