Kyrie Irving has taken hundreds of thousands of jump shots in his 24 years on Earth. Few of them have been life-changing. When it comes to his clutch 3-pointer over Stephen Curry in Game 7 of the NBA Finals, though, there is no denying it: Irving said his life has “changed drastically” since making that shot and winning a title with the Cleveland Cavaliers, via cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon:
“Yes, my life’s changed drastically,” Irving told cleveland.com Saturday, during Irving’s friendship walk and basketball challenge downtown for Best Buddies, Ohio — an organization that gives social growth and employment opportunities to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“It’s kind of, you’re waiting for that validation from everyone, I guess, to be considered one of the top players in the league at the highest stage,” Irving said. “That kind of changed. I was just trying to earn everyone’s respect as much as I could.”
If Irving hadn’t hit that 3-pointer, which gave the Cavs a three-point lead with 53 seconds left and broke a tie that had lasted almost four minutes, then it’s very possible that no one would be making jokes about the Warriors blowing a 3-1 lead right now. It’s also possible that Cleveland would have made major changes to its roster. And it’s indisputable that the perception around Irving would be different.
Like all players, Irving has flaws. He’s a weak defender and, among point guards, he’s a below-average passer. After that shot, though, these issues don’t seem to matter nearly as much as the fact he’s a champion. The Cavaliers needed his otherworldly scoring ability to come back from the aforementioned 3-1 series deficit. They needed him to make that extraordinary shot when neither team had any sort of offensive rhythm. There is no greater validation than this in the NBA.
The trick is that, heading into the next phase of Irving’s career, he must not be satisfied. Despite the validation and the adulation that comes with winning a title, he still has plenty of room to grow. LeBron James was right when he said that Irving has the potential to be an MVP one day, but he needs to be a more complete player if he’s going to get there.
That’s why it is encouraging that Irving also told cleveland.com he had to “re-start, regroup and re-prioritize what I wanted to accomplish as a player and also as a teammate” in the offseason. If everything goes right, then that 3-point shot will be seen not just the end of the city of Cleveland’s 52-year title drought, but the start of Irving’s ascent to one of the top players in the league.
Courtesy: CBS Sports