By Kenny Roda
John Johnson was the Cavs first All-Star back in 1971, and now Kyrie Irving is the team’s 15th All-Star after being selected as a reserve by the Eastern Conference coaches on Thursday. Irving got the nod despite playing for a team with the third worst record in the NBA and missing 11 games already this season. But wisely, the coaches were able to see past that and recognize Irving’s unbelievable skill set. Last year’s first overall pick can shoot it from beyond the arc with ease; he can yo-yo the basketball to mesmerize you; he can take you off the bounce and then finish with either hand at the rim or off the glass. And he does it all with a little English on the ball. He’s not afraid of the fourth quarter; in fact he thrives on late game situations. He looks forward to them. He wants the ball in his hands to determine the outcome of the game. Whether that final shot goes in or rims out, he’s always same player afterward. That’s what makes him so special. No fear! Oblivious to pressure! Not afraid to fail! Oh yeah, all of that and he’s not even 21 years old.
Irving becomes the seventh player in NBA history to be selected to the mid-season classic before he is legally allowed to have his first drink. And the previous six players – Kobe, Magic, Shaq, K.G., LeBron and Isaiah – have all won at least one NBA title and are or will be in the Hall of Fame. Not bad company. Also, like former Cav LeBron James, Irving followed up his Rookie-of-the-Year campaign by making it to the All-Star game in his second season. At 23.7 points per game, which is good for sixth in the NBA in scoring, and dishing out nearly six assists per contest, Irving’s numbers say he is deserving of this honor regardless of how bad his team is. Kudos to the coaches in the East who realized that just because a player is on a bad team doesn’t mean he’s not an All-Star. They got it right!
I’m not sure when the Cavs will be good again, but there is one thing I am sure of: this is the first of many All-Star appearances for Kyrie Irving. So Cleveland, sit back, enjoy, and be proud now and in the future of the best professional athlete you have!
Kenny Roda covers the Cavaliers for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 WKNR and ESPNCleveland.com
Follow Kenny on Twitter @RoadmanWKNR
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