The Beauty of Increased Expectations

Scott Halleran

My favorite part of All-Star Weekend wasn't Kyrie winning the 3 point contest. It wasn't when Kyrie torched Brandon Knight or even when he scored 15 points and played starter's minutes in the actual All-Star Game. No, my favorite part of the weekend was when Kyrie Irving had two turnovers and let Chris Paul score several times in the 4th Quarter.

Now, as a Cavs fan, that probably doesn't make much sense. And honestly, I didn't enjoy the turnovers themselves all that much. What I did enjoy though was the conversation Steve Kerr and Reggie Miller had after it happened.

(This was also probably the first time I've ever enjoyed listening to Reggie Miller. Although it was entertaining when he said Memphis was his sleeper in the East and then referenced a BLEACHER REPORT article on national televison (The specific article he referenced was pointed out to me and it's actually a great article. Apologies to Reggie.))

They immediately began discussing the "tricks" Chris Paul has that Kyrie hasn't mastered yet. This was the first mildly negative statement I heard about Kyrie all weekend, but to me it was the most indicative of how highly regarded Kyrie is.

They were directly comparing Kyrie Irving to Chris Paul, as nearly equal basketball players. They gave Paul the edge on savvy and his ability to run a team, but said that Kyrie was more talented. This wasn't the hyperbolic gushing that occurs every time a rookie is lauded as an upcoming superstar. This was two basketball analysts dissecting the games of two of the NBA's best point guards.

In 2011, even the most optimistic of us wouldn't have thought that we'd be able to seriously compare Kyrie to Chris Paul until he had matured and developed over at least several seasons. But there we were, in February 2013, and the commentators at the All Star Game were comparing a 20 year old who's played in maybe one nationally televised game to arguably one of the top 3 players in the league.

I think this weekend marked the beginning of a new phase of Kyrie's career. Up until now, Kyrie's outstanding performances might garner a small blurb on ESPN, but if he had an off night, there wouldn't be any mention of the Cavs at all. He was a "potential superstar."

But now he's shown to the larger NBA fandom that he is already a superstar. And even though his game still has room for improvement, people are going to start expecting superstar performance night in and night out.

Over the next year, we'll probably start to see stories about how atrocious Kyrie's defense is (even though it's improving) and how his assists totals are too low (because unfortunately people think that's the definitive measure of passing ability).

The same thing happened with Blake Griffin in his second year, when pundits started saying he was nothing but a dunker. Writers will begin to look for flaws because after a while, negative articles will draw more interest than positive ones.

This will probably cause a lot of anger and frustration with Cavs fans, (It did when it happened to Lebron) but that won't be my reaction. Even though every one of these articles will piss me off when I read it, deep down I'll be thrilled because only the truly special players draw this kind of manic attention and analysis.

And now one of them is on our team.

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