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Cavs start new era with Irving

Published: Fri, June 24, 2011 @ 12:01 a.m.



Kyrie Irving, a former Duke basketball player, gestures to the crowd after being selected with the No. 1 pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers during the NBA basketball draft, Thursday, June 23, 2011, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)



Duke's Kyrie Irving talks to reporters after being selected with the No. 1 pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers during the NBA basketball draft, Thursday, June 23, 2011, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Associated Press


Kyrie Irving didn’t know if he was going to be the No. 1 pick until NBA commissioner David Stern called his name.

“I was as surprised as anyone,” he said.

You’re going to Cleveland, kid.

Moving further away from LeBron James’ maddening departure, the Cavaliers selected Duke’s versatile point guard with the top pick in Thursday’s draft, an expected-and-safe selection for a franchise that had to endure a 63-loss season after being abandoned last July by James short of a championship.

Irving played only 11 games last season for the Blue Devils because of a toe injury, but that didn’t scare off the Cavaliers, who strongly considered Arizona forward Derrick Williams before settling on the 6-foot-2 Irving, the class of what is considered one of the weakest drafts in years.

Irving is the third point guard taken first overall in the past four years, joining John Wall, who went to Washington in 2010 and Derrick Rose, chosen by Chicago in 2008. In a league being dominated by backcourt stars, the Cavs are counting on Irving to become an elite playmaker and Cleveland’s newest star.

He’s up for the challenge.

“It’s something that I’ve been dreaming about for a while,” Irving said on a conference call from New Jersey. “I know they’ll embrace me. I just want to bring a lot of wins to the city of Cleveland.”

One summer after James’ decision, the Cavaliers are making all the choices.

After taking Irving, the Cavaliers used the No. 4 pick on Texas forward Tristan Thompson, a selection that was viewed as a bit of a surprise. The team was reportedly interested in Lithuania center Jonas Valanciunas, but may have been turned off by his uncertain contract situation with a pro club in his home country.

The 6-foot-8 Thompson, who is from Toronto, only played one year with the Longhorns, averaging 13.1 points and 7.6 rebounds.

His addition could mean the Cavaliers, who also have the Nos. 32 and 54 picks, are seriously shopping power forward J.J. Hickson, an immense physical talent who has shown flashes of stardom but whose on-court lapses frustrated coach Byron Scott last season.

Thompson has been friends with Irving since they were in high school, and he’s excited about the chance to play with someone he considers a brother.

“I think we’ll complement each other real well,” Thompson said.

For the Cavaliers, this draft signals the start of a new era — one they hope will someday end with owner Dan Gilbert being handed the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

There’s still a lot of work to be done, but in the 19-year-old Irving, the Cavaliers believe they have the player who can take them back to where James had them before bolting as a free agent.

“I really want to be the cornerstone,” he said, “the piece of the team that they build around and have a lot of great players around.”

The Cavaliers traded the rights to their second-round pick Justin Harper to Orlando for future draft picks.

Cleveland selected the 6-foot-10 Harper out of Richmond with the No. 34 overall pick before sending the forward to the Magic for the club’s second-round picks in 2013 and 2014.

Harper averaged 17.9 points and 6.9 rebounds as a senior.

The Cavs chose Serbian power forward Milan Macvan (6-9) with their other second round pick, the 24th in the round and No. 52 overall.


1SCARDELLETTI(218 comments)posted 5 years ago


First of all, this building up of the Draft in any sport: having draft bar parties, draft radio programs, draft TV shows, etc., is all just a bunch of hype which blows everything way out of proportion.

This kind of nonsense never took place when I was a kid. We didn’t even pay attention to the Draft. It took place, you got who you got, and that was it. Sometimes things worked out and sometimes they didn’t. No big deal.

So the Cavaliers got their guy with the first pick. Now please, let’s not start building up this young man like he’s the savior of the team and it’s only a matter of time before Cleveland wins its first NBA title. We went through all of that with “The Traitor,” remember?

Sure, it’s nice that the Cavaliers now have what appears to be a player who’ll help the club in the future, but that doesn’t guarantee anything. So just cool it with the hype!

God Bless

Sonino John Paul Scardelletti - A Christian

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2redvert(2238 comments)posted 5 years ago

Irving thinks to himself, "I will collect my big bonus and salary for a few years and then move on to a contender with more money yet, Hee Hee"

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3piak(508 comments)posted 5 years ago

It isn't merely the salary. Yeah, that's important. But the Market, that is what is the attraction.

In New Yawk, you have about 11 million people, some of whom will buy the Knick's jerseys, etc. Then too, the media exposure is greater there. More fame translates into making a player's name a household word. That leads to Endorsements and commercials and big buck$.

What's Cleveland got to offer? Maybe 350,000 in the town, maybe a metro area of maybe 1 million people? Not much publicity, since most of the sports networks cover the big market teams like a bee on honey.

Legone finally took the money and went to Miami. He's still young and still might be on a championship club. I'll admit he played hard for them, winning some games and raising our hopes. But! He forgets that he didn't play college ball. The Cavs took a big chance on his natural talent and coachability. Other teams might have chanced it with him, but the Cavs were eager to have a local guy make good. Luckily for the Cavs, that paid off. Legone wasn't a finished product when he signed on in Cleveland. The Cavs made him (arguably) into one of the best players in the league.

He forgot all that. " After all, it's business; you know, nothing personal.", he said as he pulled the trigger.

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