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Player Profile: Kyrie Irving is Uncle Drew is Kyrie Irving

The Cleveland Cavaliers' star point guard is your typical NBA celebrity. Except that he stays home and watches musicals on Netflix and dresses up as an old man to school people at basketball. So he's not really that typical.

David Richard-US PRESSWIRE

{Ed. note: this is a piece that I wrote for a writing class at school. I figured you'd guys like to check it out.}


"Kyree Irving is a poor man's Tim Hardaway-type offensive player. He is a good shooter with range to 22 feet though he can be streaky. He is classified as a scoring point guard and putting the ball in the basket is the best thing he does. He did make some nice fancy passes but needs to learn to make the basic good pass. He is small but plays the passing lanes very well. Kyree is currently an unknown in the 2010 class but I am sure we will be hearing from him in the very near future. Kyree would be a top 300 player in the 2010 class nationally."

-ESPN Recruiting, Nov. 2007

That's an excerpt from a 2007 scouting report on Kyrie Irving. A scout wrote that after watching him play in some high school showcase at the age of 15. He breaks down his game in a few quick sentences; not even bothering to make sure that his name was spelled correctly. That's how these things go; that's a scout's job. He probably watched Kyrie play in that one game and made a judgment based on those 30 minutes of basketball. It's not the most effective way to get a good sense of what a player can do, but when you're scouting high school players, you can't spend that much time on a single player. Despite the hastiness of such a report, the scout got two things correct: We will be hearing from him in the very near future and Kyree (sic) would be a top 300 player in the 2010 class nationally.

If you fast-forward a couple of years, Kyrie manages to land in that "top 300 players." Fairly easily, actually - Kyrie is the 2nd highest ranked recruit in the country and commits to play his college basketball at Duke University. Another scouting report after his first month of games in college heralds Irving's play:

"If there is such a thing as a freshman playing flawless basketball right now, Kyrie Irving would qualify for that outlandish statement. Productive, efficient, unselfish, exciting-there's really no shortage of ways to describe the way Irving has performed thus far."

-Draft Express, Dec. 2010

That's high praise for an eighteen year old after just eight games at the collegiate level. Initially, scouting reports seemed to downplay his physical abilities. And at every level, he continued to prove those scouting reports wrong. He simply dominated the competition in high school and then proceeded to dominate it in college as well. This would be a recurring theme that would come up again as scouts prepared for the NBA Draft. Could they justify using the first overall pick on a skinny, slightly undersized point guard? Could they pass up a more athletic prospect to select a player that relied so much on his polished skills and shooting ability? Ultimately, the Cleveland Cavaliers would make that decision - and it was a good one. After being selected with the first overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, Irving once again put to bed any doubts about his abilities and won Rookie of the Year by a near-unanimous vote. You could go on and on about Kyrie's on-court achievements, but there's something that stood out in virtually every scouting report.

"To complete the picture, Irving not only has the skill-set teams look for in a franchise point guard, but he also has the attitude and intangibles. He plays with great maturity and an amazingly confident demeanor on the court, an almost cocky swagger that makes it impossible for even the most casual observer not to realize who the best player on the court is."

-DraftExpress, Dec. 2010

Those words like swagger, attitude, intangibles, maturity - if you read an article about Kyrie, you're bound to see one of these words come up. After a certain point, Kyrie's game started to speak for itself. He was breathtaking in his one injury-shortened college season. He got drafted as a 19-year old and immediately became the face of the franchise. Not many teams feel comfortable handing the keys of an organization over to a kid who can't legally order a drink. But those words that scouts use to describe Kyrie's character, who he is as a person -- are what inspire such confidence in his coaching staff, teammates, and fans.

Now, the whole "character and integrity" storyline is pretty clichéd when it comes to young basketball prospects. Teams avoid the guys with discipline problems or guys who hang out with the wrong people. Kyrie fits into that mold nicely, of course. He's well spoken, professional, and always says the right thing in an interview. This isn't a guy who's going to throw a temper tantrum after a tough loss or bad-mouth his coach in the media. And that's a good thing, but it doesn't come close to capturing what makes Kyrie so unique as a budding superstar. Any drafted player can (and probably does) take a little chunk of his signing bonus and hire a PR manager and learn to say all the right things. That swagger, that confident demeanor - those things that make Kyrie, Kyrie - those are just reflections of his actual personality.

It's easy for NBA players to get caught up in the lifestyle of becoming a celebrity overnight. Some college stars have a hard time making the transition to being working professionals with a seven-figure paycheck. Kyrie's had no such problem. In nearly every interview, Irving will give credit and thanks to his father, Drederick Irving. After Kyrie's mother passed away when he was a child, Drederick raised Kyrie and his sister by himself and dedicated his life to helping their dreams come true. Drederick was a basketball player himself. He played at Boston University and later played professionally in Australia. He never made it to the NBA. When Kyrie was in fifth grade, he got a scholarship offer to play at Boston University, but there were bigger and better things on the horizon for him and Drederick knew it. He had Kyrie write down his goal, "Play in the NBA" on a card when he was in fourth grade and held onto it until the day the NBA commissioner called his name.

"If you are fortunate to have a father like I have," he said, "you're given a foundation. You can be content with that, or take it and run with it, like I did.

"My father is the one who told me to want more. My father is the one who told me not to settle."


Interview with Jackie MacMullan, ESPN Boston

Through his entire life, Kyrie received the encouragement from his father and coaches to trust his own abilities and to simply be himself. That's why he has ultimate confidence in who he is. That's why he's made the transition to the NBA so flawlessly. That's why he has no problem going into an interview with GQ Magazine and admitting that one of his favorite movies is the musical "Rent." In his one year at Duke, he played a main role in their production of "High School Musical." It's probably safe to say that he was the only first round draft pick to sing a solo in a school musical that year. But that's who Kyrie Irving is. Kyrie doesn't take lots of endorsements and appear in generic commercials. Instead, he worked with Pepsi to star in a short film in which he dressed up as an old man and joined a pickup game on a random street court in New Jersey. The film was directed and produced by...Kyrie Irving.

In every setting, Kyrie's personality is impossible to ignore. And it's not because he's a larger than life celebrity or because he's always seeking the spotlight. He's just genuine. He's a 20-year-old kid that sits at home and watches musicals on Netflix, but his confidence as a player and a person is overwhelming. So, when he's about to come back off the bench during the fourth quarter of a tied game, and he taps his veteran head coach on the leg and says "don't worry coach, I've got this", Byron Scott simply has to believe him. It's not just a skinny, slightly undersized guard - that's Kyrie.