Cleveland Cavaliers' number one draft pick, Kyrie Irving, recently conducted an interview with Dime Magazine. In said interview, Irving discusses his time at Duke, his thoughts on the NBA lockout, and his upcoming career with the Cavs.
You can read the whole interview here. I pulled out some of the more notable excerpts after the jump.
Dime: Regarding your playing career at Duke, do you think sometimes about what could have been if you hadn’t hurt your foot and the team had been together the whole time?
KI: I just believe, and I think everyone knew it, that if I had played the whole season, we would have gone undefeated, we would have won a national championship, and I think we would have been one of the best Duke teams ever.
Bold claim, no? When you think about the history of Duke University, there have been some pretty good teams. Irving thinks that if he had not been sidelined with a toe injury, the 2011 Blue Devils would have been right up there. There's not too much to be made of this since it is just one man's opinion. However, he may be right. The team was freakishly good before Irving got hurt and was not able to get their chemistry back on track once he returned for the NCAA tournament. We'll never know, but it's a possibility. Furthermore, I think it's pretty awesome that he knows how good of a player he is. Instead of giving a cliched answer talking about how he is just one member of the team and all that, he understands that he was their best player. There's a fine line between being confident and over-confident, and I don't think Kyrie crosses that. He's a phenomenally talented player and he knows it. That's a good attitude to have going into the NBA as the #1 overall pick.
Dime: How bad at this point do you just want to get out there and play?
KI: I definitely want to get out there and play – bad. Around this time, I’d be playing preseason games or getting ready for the season, so it’s definitely tough, but this will only strengthen the NBA and what we bring to the table. Last year was one of the best years for the NBA, making the most money in terms of television, and socially just being out there, so the NBA was on top of its game. But this lockout is just going to be a learning experience for me, just going through this.
No surprise here, Irving just wants to play basketball. He's still practicing with the Duke team, but obviously cannot wait to get to the NBA. It's also worth noting that he seems to actually understand what the lockout is about. It's about the money, nothing personal. He recognizes that there's nothing he can do about it and is just taking it in stride. He'll get his chance to play, sooner or later.
Dime: I recently took a trip to Cleveland, and everyone I talked to is really excited to have you playing for the Cavs. Have you spent some time there to gauge the reaction of the fans?
KI: Absolutely. When you walk around Cleveland, having everyone recognize your face and you haven’t played an NBA game, it just shows you how much they pay attention to their sports teams. It’s a really great fan town, I’m looking forward to getting started there.
I think this kid gets it. He can see how passionate Cleveland fans are and I think he's ready for it. Hopefully he's not one of those Cleveland athletes that tweets something stupid and then acts surprised when the fans get upset (look at you, J.J. Hickson).
Dime: What did it mean to you personally to be drafted No. 1?
KI: Being drafted No. 1 was a very special thing for me. It was something I’ve been dreaming about since I was in fifth or sixth grade. It comes with a lot of pressure, but that was something I’ve kind of expected. Knowing that the Cleveland Cavaliers have enough confidence in me to take me No. 1, and me being in a position to do great things in Cleveland, is something I’ve been dreaming about my whole life. I’m glad to be in this position, and I’m going to take full advantage of it.
Holy crap. Can we get this kid on the court? Like, now?