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Fear the Links: Looking back on Kyrie Irving’s time with the Cavs

Let’s get nostalgic.

2011 NBA Draft

Happy Thursday, everyone. With the Cave having pulled a Sam Hinkie and nabbed second round pick in the Kyrie Irving deal, let’s look back at what he meant to the city.

In 2012, near the end of Kyrie’s rookie year, SI’s Lee Jenkins profiled Irving and what he meant for the post-LeBron James Cavs. One passage that has always stuck with me:

Irving pointed at his dad, who was sprinting down the sideline. Herron was twirling a brunette through the air. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert tweeted gleefully, "I think I am pretty pleased with the 1st pick, how about you?!" Anger and disgust over James's departure had been smoldering in Cleveland for a year and half. Fans couldn't let go. Now the Age of LeBron was over. The Irving Era was underway. "This is a new beginning," Herron says. "A lot of the hate here has subsided. There is hope now. And it's because of Kyrie."

Cavs fans have defended Kyrie aggressively, sure. But this is a major reason why — he meant something to fans at a bad, bad time in franchise history.

Also in 2012, ESPN’s Pablo Torre also wrote about Irving and showed an interesting link between James and Irving:

"Personality-wise, LeBron and Kyrie are a lot more alike than people in Cleveland would like to admit," one former Cavs staffer says. "They're socially outgoing, friendly, funny, alpha males. But confidence is the biggest difference. LeBron always seemed worried about what would be said when he failed. Kyrie's more like, I'm just going to score on those motherf--."

One has to wonder if that difference mattered as this summer unfolded.

We’ll have more on Kyrie next week, by the way. Even with this exit, he’ll go down as one of the franchise’s most important players and maybe No. 2 behind LeBron.

Other things to read today: The Athletic’s Zack Meisel on how the Indians thrived in a difficult August, the NYT why this ESPN staffer quit covering football and SI’s Brian Straus’ Graham Zuzi profile ahead of USA World Cup qualifying.