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Is Kyrie Irving really the ”most skilled basketball player ever”?


Chauncey Billups called Kyrie Irving the most skilled point guard ever. He’s entitled to his opinions, but here are reasons why he got it wrong and how it could backfire. 

Indirect insult to Dame Lillard

Billups made the comment in the postgame interviews after the Portland Trail Blazers, sans Lillard, beat Irving’s Nets. As a former player and Finals MVP who played the same position, it’s high praise coming from the Blazers coach. 

“He's must-see TV. I personally think, as somebody that played the position, I think Kyrie's the most skilled player that's ever played that position. Just straight skill. Nothing else.”

Chauncey Billups, ESPN

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If Chauncey thinks so, he has every right to comment on it. However, Billups has Damian Lillard on the team, who won’t be too enthusiastic about hearing this comment. Chauncey’s comments could be seen as a slight shade thrown at his guard, who is currently sidelined due to an abdominal injury. There were rumors before that Lillard could leave Portland to chase a ring elsewhere -- Anfernee Simons’ progress and Chauncey’s comments could force him out this time. 

As the Portland Trail Blazers coach, Billups should have considered praising Lillard, too, even if he made that Kyrie comment. That's the NBA we live in these days.

Is Kyrie the most skilled PG ever?

Leaving team dynamics and superstar management aside, is Chauncey right to say Kyrie is the most skilled PG of all time? When it comes to skills, it’s not only about dribbling, shooting, and finishing at the rim, qualities Irving does at an extremely high level. Rebounding, stealing, blocking, and defending are also skills, and in these departments, Irving lags behind some all-time greats, such as Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson. 

I’ll give Kyrie flair, but to say he’s the most skilled PG ever is a bit much. Even if we go by flair, Allen Iverson has as much to offer in terms of handles and was athletically dominant compared to Irving. So overall, Chauncey didn’t just rub his superstar the wrong way but also took it a bit far with the “that’s ever played the position” part.

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