Kyrie Irving: Hardwood Magician

Curtis Pride

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The Celtics are presently 10-2 with a 10-game winning streak still going. Kyrie Irving has played a big part in their success so far, scoring 22 points per game and dishing out 5.7 assists per game, both in the top 20 in the league. But stats don’t tell the whole story about him. I have to see him play to fully appreciate him. Sometimes I have to replay a play just to believe what I just saw. Now I’m comparing him to Bob Cousy, or at least his reputation for dribbling and passing. Anyway, Kyrie has been fun to watch, and he deserves his own thread.
 

I am an Idiot

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Nov 16, 2007
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I knew he was good but not how good he actually was. His ball handling is phenomenal. He’s like a black hole, collapsing defenses towards him and kicking it out to the open man. Even when he’s four feet from the rim, he waits until the last second and makes the perfect pass. It’s been a revelation to watch this season.

Has that always been a part of his game? I only really paid attention to him prior to this when he was single-handedly destroying us in a few games.
 

fairlee76

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He most certainly does deserve his own thread. He makes national-TV-Rondo plays every single game. To the point where it looks routine. Amazing ball-handling skills, elite body control, and a super soft shooting touch around the basket make him an absolute joy to watch. This team is going to be extremely fun to watch for the duration of the Irving-Heyward-Brown-Tatum-Horford era.
 

ifmanis5

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He is both clever and smart. Has a bag of tricks, figures out angles but also has a feel for the flow of the game. I was a fan of his before he got here and even more so now. One of the best finishers, tough shot makers in the league and great handles. Just hope he stays healthy.
 

DrewDawg

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One of my new fun post-game rituals is heading to twitter, putting "Kyrie" in the search box, and watching all the gifs and clips that get posted.
 

djbayko

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Okay, maybe...just maybe I was wrong about the trade. Now that Kyrie's here, I don't want him to be anywhere else. When the Celts get GH back, we're going to give GSW a run for their money.
 

lars10

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GS will still have an advantage at 4/5 positions
This is true offensively.. but how about defensively? The Celtics play GS well.. although Durrant changed that quite a bit.. but i think they match up better than last year.. how do the benches stack up?
Haven’t seen them play much this year
 

bosox79

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Dave McMenaminESPN Staff Writer
Asked Mavericks player development coach God Shammgod where Kyrie Irving's handles rank for him all-time: "Third," he said. "Mines, Isiah Thomas, then Kyrie."
 

Joe Sixpack

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Check out the documentary (it's short, only 11 minutes) in the PC Basketball thread here on God Shammgod. He really has a case for the best handle of all time.
 

bosox79

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I thought he was just joking, interesting. I saw him a few times in college and the pros but don't really remember him for anything other than his name. Him and Darvin Ham.
 

nighthob

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Sure, God. Keep telling yourself that the handle that earned you 20 career games was best all time.
Dude, Shammgod’s handle was so far past insane that to this day people putting together YouTube reels of other players’ sick crossovers tag them with Shammgod’s name so that people will find them. The rest of his game was largely pretty bad, but when it came to dribbling the man was a fucking Globetrotter (my father used to say that Shammgod was the best dribbler he’d seen this side of Marques Haynes).
 

Kliq

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His handle was insane. Rest of his game not so much. But go watch some videos of God Shamgod and the influence he had on all these guys, especially Kyrie.
I’d bet most NBA players are only vaguely aware of who God Shamgod even is. That isn’t to say he wasn’t a great ball handler, but I wouldn’t call him influential to today’s players. Iverson, Tim Hardaway, CP3, Nick Van Exel, those are the ball handlers that were influential to the Kyrie Irving generation.
 

Spelunker

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I’d bet most NBA players are only vaguely aware of who God Shamgod even is. That isn’t to say he wasn’t a great ball handler, but I wouldn’t call him influential to today’s players. Iverson, Tim Hardaway, CP3, Nick Van Exel, those are the ball handlers that were influential to the Kyrie Irving generation.
I would have agreed with you until I realized that they actually call a certain move a "Shammgod".

Fifteen years ago you were probably right. But in a post Youtube world he's become pretty legendary with ballers.

And specially with Kyrie: he's actually in this video that I've posted before, talking about Shamm. Along with Russ, and Lillard, and others.
 

Reverend

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I would have agreed with you until I realized that they actually call a certain move a "Shammgod".

Fifteen years ago you were probably right. But in a post Youtube world he's become pretty legendary with ballers.

And specially with Kyrie: he's actually in this video that I've posted before, talking about Shamm. Along with Russ, and Lillard, and others.
I love it when a hypothetical that makes sense slams right into contradictory empirical evidence.

This makes me wonder how much YouTube and such has affected basketball itself. Like, some stuff is easier to translate to video—clowning a fool for example—and this will affect the trajectory of skills development. It could be related to how rapidly the game has been changing in recent years.
 

PC Drunken Friar

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I’d bet most NBA players are only vaguely aware of who God Shamgod even is. That isn’t to say he wasn’t a great ball handler, but I wouldn’t call him influential to today’s players. Iverson, Tim Hardaway, CP3, Nick Van Exel, those are the ball handlers that were influential to the Kyrie Irving generation.
Obviously I am a bit biased, but I'd have to seriously disagree with you. While YouTube wasn't around back then, the Iversons, CP3, etc. came up right in middle of the And1 Mixtape Era. Those mixtapes and those handlers were most definitely influenced by Shamgod.

I also think you are underestimating how much today's NBA still revere the NYC playground legends.
 

nighthob

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I’d bet most NBA players are only vaguely aware of who God Shamgod even is. That isn’t to say he wasn’t a great ball handler, but I wouldn’t call him influential to today’s players. Iverson, Tim Hardaway, CP3, Nick Van Exel, those are the ball handlers that were influential to the Kyrie Irving generation.
Shammgod was a playground legend, and a lot of the present generation, even if they never played him during their own playground excursions, played against the guys that did.
 

RGREELEY33

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Speaking of NYC playground legends, Pearl Washington had a sick handle.
Not that this isn't true, but I laughed out loud. It had a "Monbo posting a black & white of some 1950's actress" in the "Hottest Women" thread in P&G feel to it.
 
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moly99

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Jun 28, 2007
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Where are all the Kyrie naysayers?
I will very happily admit to being wrong about him. The most cheering thing is that he is doing all (or at least most) of the basic stuff: moving intelligently when he doesn't have the ball in his hands, playing defense and creating shots for his teammates.

To be honest I still don't understand why we never saw this Kyrie in Cleveland during the regular season. You can blame it on LeBron dominating the team or Lue being a terrible coach, but Kyrie was essentially the same player in his three years before LeBron and with two other coaches before Lue. The only constants were Dan Gilbert's terrible administration of the Cavs, the soul-enfeebling city of Cleveland and Kyrie himself. Maybe the Cavs organization is simply a terrible environment for players.

Whatever the reason for his turnaround, I can't remember being more happy to be wrong about a player than I am about Kyrie.
 

Eddie Jurak

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I think the whole Celtics team, Kyrie included, is still figuring things out in the offensive end. But he has been impressive, in a way that makes me think that he will get even better as the team figures things out.

The Cavs/LeBron stuff is difficult to figure out, but there has to be something there.
 

slamminsammya

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I've been surprised and thrilled at his defense. I think it speaks to a combination of Kyrie manning up and trying to improve his game ("perfect the craft"), and the huge descrepancy in coaching between Lue/Blatt/Etc. and Stevens. It also helps having Theis and Horford and lots of athletic young wings to help out as opposed to Thompson/Love/JR Smith.

For all the fancy dribbling, and it is amazing, he is still iso-ing way too much for me. I think that will improve as he gels in the system more. He throws up heat check shots totally out of the flow of the offense at times and it is frustrating.

Overall its going great. I'll eat a lot of crow.