Like most superstars in the league, Kyrie Irving had that moment when he transitioned from an average basketball player to a baller with infinite potential. His dad, Drederick Irving, shared that the moment occurred in a 1-on-1 game when Kyrie was just 16 years old.
Irving vs Irving
Drederick was a stellar baller himself back in the day. While he never made the NBA, he did play some pro ball in the Australian National Basketball League (NBL). Just like any doting father, Drederick wanted the best for his son. This included exposing him to basketball workouts, especially through 1-on-1 duels.
One day, father-and-son played 15 consecutive 1-on-1 bouts. Irving was 16 then while his dad was 42. Drederick got a massive beatdown. Instead of sulking, he gave credit to his son for treating him like any other foe.
"He thought I was going to give him this lecture," Drederick said. "I said, 'Ky, the way you beat me is the way you should beat a 42-year-old. He killed me, beat me 15-0 and it wasn't even a game. I felt good because he got me. He wasn't nice to me because I was his dad. He destroyed me and was talking smack the whole game. To me it was validation that Kyrie was ready to move on to make the next step,” the elder Irving said, per Yahoo Sports.
Reppin’ the Cavaliers
Drederick shared the tidbit back in 2011, a few days before his son was selected first overall pick in the NBA Draft. As with most first-overall picks, everyone knows more or less who will be selected. Kyrie expected his name would be called first and which jersey he would wear. During that time, the Cleveland Cavaliers had the first pick. Irving also knew that the King had just left his hometown for South Beach.
"It's a rebuilding team," Kyrie said. "Whoever goes there, the pressure is going to come regardless. Just being in the top three [picks] has pressure. It will be a lot harder in Cleveland knowing that LeBron [James] left. But whoever is picked there should just worry about themselves and being focused on bringing a new culture to the team and contributing as much as they can."
It’s an interesting look back at the distant past. Drederick was right in his reading that his son was born to be a great basketball player. Kyrie, meanwhile, was aware of the pressures of being the top pick. It was useful that he knew of the Cavaliers’ recent history. He didn’t know that after three years, LeBron James would come home. And a year after that, Kyrie would hit one of the biggest clutch shots in basketball history over the greatest shooter of all time.