It’s been a busy and high successful summer for Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving. After helping the Cavs come back from 3-1 down in the NBA Finals by hitting a game winning shot, he headed to Rio de Janerio and helped Team USA win a gold medal.
A few months removed from his game winner, Irving says his life has changed. In an interview with Joe Vardon of cleveland.com, he said that his life has changed ‘drastically’ and that the shot validated him.
"Yes, my life's changed drastically," Irving told cleveland.com Saturday, during Irving's friendship walk and basketball challenge downtown for Best Buddies, Ohio -- an organization that gives social growth and employment opportunities to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
"It's kind of, you're waiting for that validation from everyone, I guess, to be considered one of the top players in the league at the highest stage," Irving said. "That kind of changed. I was just trying to earn everyone's respect as much as I could."
By winning gold and a title in the same summer, Irving joined elite company by becoming the fourth player ever to win a ring and gold medal in the same summer. The other three players to do so? LeBron James, Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan.
As he heads into next season, Irving’s star is certainly on the rise. To date, there have been some questions about just how good he is and there are still some moving forward. And at the NBA’s deepest position, many have him behind the likes of Raptors guard Kyle Lowry, Wizards guard John Wall and Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard.
But none of those guys have done what he has done on that stage against a team the caliber of the Warriors. Perhaps this is sign of things to come for Irving and just the beginning of him being a widely recognized as a star.