“Just picked out my classes for this fall,” tweeted one Kyrie Irving, first overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. “Back to school it is!!!”
Such is the life for a rookie in a league that has ceased operation. Irving, whose father insists that a one-and-done career path was not in the cards one year earlier, will go back to Duke University and take coursework like many other 19-year-olds within the same institution. While others within Irving’s freshly acquired peer group are fielding offers from potential overseas employers, he and his teammate Tristan Thompson are opting to continue their education while they wait out the current impasse that is the NBA and their labor negotiations.
“Even though I’m not playing basketball, I’m still being productive,” Thompson recently told The Canadian Press. “I’m working out with the Texas team, and continuing to get my education which is important because when it’s all said and done, basketball can only do so much for you. You stop playing when you’re around 35 so you’ve got another 60 more years to live, and I’ve got to do something. This education is going to help me.”
Both players had spent the bulk of the summer working out at their respective schools. Thompson entertained the idea of playing with the Canadian national club in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament, but opted against it once the schedule conflicted with his pending schoolwork. Irving has been in Durham since the draft, continuing to work out, something that is imperative given the foot issues which took away a large portion of his freshman campaign with the Blue Devils.
Despite opting to enter the NBA, Irving promised his father that he would in fact earn his degree from Duke. He had originally estimated that it would take an additional five offseasons; the current state of the NBA may help expedite this process.
“I have to make it work,” Irving said during the NBA combine. “I’m really going to have to make it work. That’s a pact I have to live up to. I definitely need to be at Duke in the summers. I can’t forget the Duke program. I want to be around there as much as I can.”