I first began watching the NBA in 2016. The sport of basketball had always appealed to me but due to the time difference among other things I never got the chance to fully engross myself. That all changed in 2016. I had been keeping up with the playoffs and began watching the Finals. Flash forward to game 7 and the Cavaliers had just come from 3-1 down in the series to force a final game.
I, as many others had, decided to root for the underdog Cavaliers. The game was in the dying embers with the score tied 89-89. That was until Kyrie Irving gets the ball out of a timeout, switches onto Steph Curry and isolates. Step to the right. Bang. Cavs go ahead to win the game 93-89.
The moment of Irving stepping to his right and nailing ‘the shot’ is ingrained in my mind. Irving’s moment of magic is a microcosm of what makes sport a religion for some. The ancient Greeks had two interpretations of time. Chronos, meaning the chronological sequence of time. And Kairos, meaning a moment in time. One is quantitative (Chronos) and one is qualitative (Kairos).
Kyrie Irving, for me, is synonymous with Kairos. Some watch sport for the everyday, chronological, analytical side of things, others watch for the moments of magic, the desire to witness a moment that makes you remember where you were when it happened. The truth is, we’re all largely somewhere in the middle of the two. However, some sportsmen are adept at delivering moments, slaves to Kairos.
Recently, Irving has come under fire for his actions both on and off the court. His successful stint with the Cavaliers came to an abrupt end after Irving requested a trade in 2017, one summer after his famous shot. Irving was then traded to the Boston Celtics where he enjoyed some of his time, but then forced his way out by acting erratically.
Irving may have not achieved the same quantitative success with the Celtics, but night after night (before the grizzly end) people would flock to TD Garden to see Irving take to the hardwood.
Night after night, Irving would seek out his next victim, get the ball in his hands and proceed to dance. Pull up and shoot the game winning 3 on Kawhi Leonard, do the same to John Wall. Force the switch onto a big man and see him sweat as Irving undresses him with a hesitation move followed by going to the basket finishing with his opposite hand. Gets out running in transition, spin move, behind the back, the ball is moving so fast you swear it disappeared. Countless behind the back assists that would make Jason Williams swoon.
While it is true that Irving can be overly dramatic at times, especially in terms of his conduct off the court and in the locker room. There is no denying that Kyrie is a purveyor of moments on the basketball court.
For me, Irving’s style of play is similar to that of a roaming ‘enganche’ in football, or soccer. Maradona, Riquelme, Ronaldinho, Le Tissier. An artist who is never rushed and therefore can often seem detrimental to a team’s success. A player who is capable of creating the most astonishing moments, but can also drive you to distraction due to his methods.
To conclude, Irving is a special type of player that should be cherished in today’s game. He may lack some of the leadership skills shown by LeBron James and have moments of stupidity, but there is no denying that Irving belongs in rarefied air.