Irving takes James’ role as Cleveland king
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
HOUSTON — Had Kyrie Irving considered the scope of this stage he starred on, his All-Star weekend coming-out party may have never come to pass.
The eyeballs come from all angles and in record numbers in the NBA these days – people in 215 countries watching in 47 languages on televisions and tablets and laptops and the like. Irving, this 20-year-old prodigy who joined incredible company in becoming the seventh player to be an All-Star before his 21st birthday, is now a major player in this game that goes way beyond the game.
The business of basketball is booming these days, and the one-man brands of players like Irving are built in times like these. The Cleveland Cavaliers’ point guard thrilled the masses in the Rising Stars game on Friday, won the three-point contest on Saturday and was ready to enjoy his newfound elite status in his first All-Star game on Sunday. All the while, the counter-intuitive notion that Miami’s LeBron James could return to Cleveland as a free agent in the summer of 2014 continued to grow, in large part, because Irving’s talent is tantalizing enough to make the Akron, Ohio native seriously consider going home again.
“He’s unbelievable,” James said about Irving’s coronation as new king of Cleveland. “He’ll be (among) the top two, top three best point guards in the league. He’s headed there already.
“He’s doing some great things right now. They should be excited about having him in Cleveland.”
Irving, who was voted in by the fans despite the Cavaliers’ 16-37 record, was synonymous with excitement all weekend long.
His ankle-breaking moves against Detroit’s Brandon Knight were the talk of the town on Friday night, and he was the star on Saturday night as well. During the championship round of the three-point contest, and with a jumping James cheering him on courtside, TNT commentator Kenny Smith said on the telecast, “This dude is trying to make a statement, man.”
To which fellow analyst and Hall of Famer Reggie Miller replied, “Make a statement? He’s just trying to take over the league…The worlds is yours, Chico.”
By the time Sunday night arrived, … [For more on Kyrie Irving takes LeBron James' role as Cleveland king, click here.]