Article by Ryan Shimizu
In 2016, Kevin Durant’s move to the Golden State Warriors from the Oklahoma City Thunder took the NBA and its fans by surprise. Durant’s move secured the Warrior’s position as the NBA champions early on in the season, for the team had gained another MVP. It is evident that trades play a huge part in influencing how a team performs. This year, there have been several trade deals from Paul George and Carmelo Anthony to the Oklahoma City Thunder, or Derrick Rose, Isiah Thomas, and Dwayne Wade’s move to the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, the most surprising move of this year is Kyrie Irving’s move to the Boston Celtics.
According to the official NBA website, Kyrie Irving was born on March 23, 1992 in Melbourne Australia. But soon after, Irving moved to the United States to West Orange, New Jersey. In the fifth grade he was offered a scholarship for basketball to Boston University, proving his star like qualities at a young age. He then moved on to Montclair Kimberley academy as a freshman and sophomore in highschool. But transferred to St. Patrick High School to challenge himself in his junior and senior years. Although he had a scholarship to Boston, Irving committed to Duke University in 2009 believing it would have been a more competitive environment. He played for a year but passed-up his final three seasons of eligibility to enter the 2011 NBA draft. As expected by many, he was the first overall pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers and began his NBA career at the age of 19.
Ever since his NBA debut, Irving’s career has been on a steady rise. He had already won several awards by the age of 25: the NBA Rookie of the Year, 2012; NBA Three-Point Shootout champion, 2013; NBA All-Star Game MVP, 2014; NBA champion, 2016; and a four time NBA All-Star in 2013, 2015, and 2017. These awards have earned him respect from the NBA and its fans. Although he is seen by many as a great player, he is still not regarded as an NBA legend like his former teammate Lebron James.
Many thought that Irving would continue building his legacy alongside Lebron James with the Cavaliers. However, in response to a question from the Associated Press about his motivation for moving, Irving said:
“It’s my time to do what’s best for me and my intentions, and that’s going after something bigger than myself and honestly being in an environment that is conducive for my potential. My intentions are to be happy and with a group of individuals I can grow with” (Bastock).
Although he did not talk down on or ‘diss’ anyone on the Cavaliers, it is clear that he felt that staying in the Cavaliers would not enable him to achieve his full potential.
Irving obviously had his own reasons for wanting to move. But whatever his thoughts were, what matters now is what effect his move will have on the league. Some are extremely hopeful for Irving, Danny Ainge, the general manager of the Boston Celtics for example, has said:
“[Irving’s] age and experience is a great fit for us, with where we are with some of our younger players. His ability to score in a variety of ways – shooting from the three, getting to the basket – are elite. He’s shown that the last three years in the NBA Finals, and at a young age of 25 it’s very unique and very special what he’s been able to accomplish against the best competition in the world” (Amick).
Clearly, Ainge sees great potential in Irving and others also share this view. Juliet Litman from The Ringer has compared Irving to one of the greatest NBA players in history: “Hopefully for the Celtics, [Irving’s] greatness will power the team as Kobe did for his Lakers after Shaq left” (Litman). Others, however, are skeptical about Irving’s abilities. Nick Greene from Slate Magazine says:
“There’s also a lot to dislike about the move. Boston is swapping a great offensive point guard who is a liability on defense, [Isiah Thomas], for … a great offensive point guard who is a liability on defense, [Kyrie Irving]. Celtics coach Brad Stevens’ game plan relies on crisp passing, a skill that isn’t exactly Kyrie’s forte” (Greene).
Similarly, David Aldridge, a TNT analyst, says “Irving is defensively challenged — he may not even understand the meaning of the word that fans shout near the ends of games when they want their team to keep the other team from scoring” (Aldridge). The main concern for critics seems to be Irving’s ability to play defense. In this sense, Irving is clearly no Kobe to lead the Celtics to their championship ring.
Although it may be difficult for the Celtics to advance to the finals with Lebron and his team in the Eastern Conference, the addition of Irving in place of injured Isiah Thomas, should put the Celtics in a better position than they were in the previous season. Yes, Irving’s lack of defensive capabilities will be detrimental to the Celtics; nevertheless, the Celtics should expect an improved record for the 2017-2018 season.
Aldridge, David. “Mega-Trade of Kyrie Irving, Isaiah Thomas Doesn’t Change Much in East.” NBA.com, NBA, 4 Sept. 2017. Web. 20 Sept. 2017.
Bastock, Ashley. “Kyrie Irving Explains Decision to Leave Cleveland in Press Conference.” NEO Sports Insiders, NEO Sports Insiders, 1 Sept. 2017. Web. 17 Sept. 2017.
Greene, Nick. “Kyrie Irving to Boston Is the Biggest Possible Trade That Won’t Change a Thing.” Slate Magazine, Slate Magazine, 22 Aug. 2017. Web. 20 Sept. 2017.
Litman, Juliet. “Kyrie Irving Is the New Kobe Bryant.” The Ringer, The Ringer, 1 Sept. 2017. Web. 16 Oct. 2017.
“Official NBA Bio of Kyrie Irving.” NBA.com, NBA. Web. Sept. 2017.