Kyrie Irving can’t legally purchase an alcoholic beverage in the United States until March 23rd of this year. Check.
He won the ROY award last season in near-unanimous fashion. Check.
Irving’s ball-handling puts And 1 Mix Tape wunderkind, The Professor, to shame. Check.
Kyrie Irving has one of the prettiest jumpers in the league and just won the NBA’s 3-point shooting contest (the only Saturday competition that people still seem to care about) during this past All-Star weekend. Check.
He was also in the actual All-Star game in just his second year. Check.
He dazzled in the Rookie-Sophomore game, abusing Brendan Knight enough, particularly on one cross-over you’ve already seen, that Brendon Knight might be forever scarred from participating in anything over an All-Star weekend ever again. Check.
Add all those check marks up and you’ve got the most fantastic, stupefying, physically gifted young basketball player in the world; someone who leaves professional basketball writers groveling to assign him the most favorable adjectives they can find as they tweet in a perpetual state of delirium at what they’re witnessing. You know, like Derrick Rose used to be, and hopefully will be again.
Kevin Garnett is a dick, right? I write that knowing full well he’s played the bad guy for the last five years in Boston, and was similarly antagonistic in Minnesota, except no one watched Minnesota for the last four seasons he was in town. Opposing fans refer to him like Romney supporters refer to Obama: he’s crazy, and not in a good way. Garnett doesn’t do much to dissuade them of this view either, seeming to revel in their antipathy.
He barks a lot on the court, with veins overtly announcing themselves on his sweat-drenched face; he bangs his head against the foam base of his basket’s risers before every game; he’s not against throwing an elbow or two or taking—borderline—cheap shots when he thinks the refs aren’t looking; he says inappropriate and demeaning things on the court to opposing players and teammates; he is so intense during games, even regular season games (the temerity!), it’s not a stretch to say that if an entrenched cubicle worker were to mimic his intensity, employment would be untenable and the worker might even risk institutionalization.
But Kevin Garnett cares about winning, and doesn’t mind sacrificing geniality in order to achieve that goal. He also might be one of the world’s best teammates and a genuinely nice guy, so long as it’s not in the time between an hour before tip-off, and when he leaves the arena.