Kyrie Irving walked the walk. After what seemed like an eternity of rumor and innuendo surrounding his disdain for Cleveland and the drain-circling direction of the Cavaliers, all of which were verbally rebuffed by the point guard, Irving took minutes—not days, or weeks, or even months—to provide the handshake that will keep him draped in wine and gold through 2020. For months, Irving was the subject of boundless speculation. For months, fans demanded a sign that he was, to borrow a phrase, “all in” on Cleveland. He could say whatever he liked—it was what he did that mattered.
Well, at the first chance he was given, Irving put his money where is mouth was. And so did the Cavs—$90 million worth.
This isn’t a time to shoot back at the national media who had pegged Irving as a player with one foot out the door. He may have very well been unhappy with the situation and the perpetual stages of losing. He may have not gotten along with all of his teammates or coaches. But things change. Chris Grant has been relieved of his duties; David Griffin has jumped in like a red-headed breath of fresh air in a goatee. Mike Brown is no longer drawing up hapless offensive sets. Instead, David Blatt and Tyronn Lue—two point guard-centric coaches—are calling shots. Both men were reportedly very instrumental in the late-night presentation to Irving. And the days of losing to accumulate draft picks are in the rear view. Despite all of the asset accumulation that was taking place, Griffin and his staff have a very clear goal put forth by the ownership team: It’s time to win basketball games.
Players like Irving don’t come around very often. Sure, he has his faults—his defense borders on deplorable; his body language could certainly use some fine-tuning. Stats can be parsed. Film can be looped. What Irving is, for all of his shortcomings, is a 22-year-old, lighting fast point guard with handles that will make your head spin. He has a lot of learning to do, and he’ll be the first to tell you as much. But he’s a two-time All-Star with one of the best offensive skill sets in the league. The Cavaliers undoubtedly made the correct call in offering Irving that five-year, $90 million deal. It’s a sign of commitment; it’s a sign of cohesiveness. And they still have plenty of flexibility. The proverbial ball is now in the court of Kyrie Irving who has to live up to the deal that will be inked on July 10, one that could be worth even more in the event he qualifies for the ever-popular Derrick Rose Rule.
So no, this isn’t a time to take shots and point fingers. It certainly isn’t a time to worry. It’s a time to celebrate, Cleveland. You did your part, fans. It’s now up to Kyrie and the Cavs to do theirs.
(Photo: Scott Sargent/WFNY)