David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Conrad asked me what my favorite Cavs' moment of 2012 was. This is how I answered.
My favorite Cavaliers-themed basketball moment of 2012 didn't happen during a Cavs' game. It wasn't even really related to anything the Cavs did this year. Can you blame me? The Cavs only had a single three game winning streak throughout the entire 2012 calendar year. This is a team building for the future, so not a lot of what they do right now is particularly pretty.
That future is bright though for one particular reason: Kyrie Irving. During his first full calendar year, Kyrie raced into our hearts and helped to at least foggy the memories of The Artist Formerly Known as Number 23. His rookie season was great. Kyrie was one of six rookies since 1960 to average at least 18 points, five assists, and shoot at least 46% from the field. But there were still questions about whether or not he was truly a "franchise" player that could lead a team to a title or not. That changed this summer with one single moment. This moment truly marked his arrival. It was "the GIF."
While on the USA Select Team (the team that practices with the national team), Kyrie did that. Who he did it against reads like a cavalcade of NBA stars. He splits Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant making them look silly for even attempting to do anything against his handle. Then, once he gets to halfcourt, he viciously spins around James Harden like he's a still dummy that is unable to move. His final move you may ask, to get around the recovering Bryant as he attempts to return the favor of making him look silly in the first place? A reverse between the legs crossover to make Bryant's ankles look like JELLO, as Kyrie now drives to go into the paint against Blake Griffin and Carmelo Anthony.
And that was it. That was his arrival. Cleveland fans had already known about Kyrie's wizardry with a basketball, but unfortunately his rookie season went largely unnoticed to the rest of the country as Cleveland toiled away at the bottom of the Central Division. When "the GIF" was released, that's when the rest of the country finally realized how good Kyrie Irving is.
And to top it off, that might not have even been my favorite part of the Kyrie experience while he was with the USA Select Team. He even challenged Kobe to a game of one-on-one. And he wasn't even kidding!
Kyrie Irving Challenges Kobe Bryant (via DukeBluePlanet)
The kid legitimately feels he can beat Kobe Bryant in a game of one-on-one basketball. And you know what, I wouldn't even put it past him. Kyrie created a sense of hope and optimism for Cavs' fans this summer, and that sense of hope is far more important than anything else that happened during the 2012 calendar year to me.