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The Importance of a gold medal for Kyrie Irving

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Kyrie Irving can further cement his status as a star by winning gold in Rio.

China v United States - USA Basketball Showcase Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

It has been a good year for Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving. He’s rebounded from a scary knee injury in last year’s playoffs, became a father, had a signature moment on the game’s biggest stage and put to rest all of those hot takes about whether or not the Cavs were better off without him. But how much better can the year get for the man who made the biggest shot in Cavs history?

The answer: a lot better, especially if Team USA wins the gold medal over the course of the next few weeks. Only a handful of players have ever won a FIBA World Cup, NBA Title and the Olympic Gold medal. Six players to be exact, including greats like David Robinson, Shaquille O’Neal and Alonzo Mourning. Kyrie could join the exclusive club by the end of the month, which would put an exclamation point on a year that most folks could only dream of. Winning gold would also make Kyrie only the second player in franchise history to achieve the highest honor in international basketball, joining LeBron James. Perhaps most impressively, Kyrie would join a list of veritable basketball Gods if he and Team USA win it all, becoming one of only 23 players to win an Olympic gold and NBA title since 1992. The list includes all-time greats like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and of course LeBron James.

The Olympics also provide Kyrie with an opportunity to put get some closure for a bit of unfinished business. Irving is the only former Blue Devil on the Olympic roster for legendary Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who is embarking on his last Olympics on Team USA’s bench. Irving was only healthy enough to play 11 games while he was a student at Duke, but despite that, the pair seem to share a strong bond. Kyrie spoke with ESPN’s Dave McMenamin earlier this summer on the importance of suiting up for Coach K one final time, and shared that he felt he was the one that got away for Krzyzewski. For the pair of them to win a world title together, in Coach K’s final season, would make winning the gold even sweeter.

The Olympics will give Kyrie an international stage for him to showcase his talent and remind everyone that he is more than LeBron James’ point guard. He is a superstar. He is the guy who put reigning two time MVP Steph Curry on skates and sank a 3 pointer in his face to win an NBA Title. He is the guy who was the MVP of Team USA’s 2014 FIBA World Cup Gold medal winning team over the likes of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and James Harden.

It is the summer of Kyrie Irving, so sit back and enjoy the show in Rio.