Kyrie Irving, recently crowned NBA Rookie of the Year, sat down with GQ Magazine for an in-depth Q&A, and it was awesome.
While we've learned lots of anecdotes about Irving during the season, it's always interesting to talk to rookies after their first year is complete to allow them time and perspective to reflect. Irving acknowledged having starry eyes during some of the games this year (while in Los Angeles against Kobe Bryant, and against LeBron James and Kevin Durant), but also came across as a very mature and interesting young man.
Showing a love of musicals and admitting to knowing all of the lyrics to the songs in "Rent," he made it clear that he is more than just a guy who plays basketball. Instead, he’s a wickedly talented 20-year-old who is incredibly well-rounded in addition to being able to dominate on the basketball court.
Who did Irving say was the toughest player to go up against this season? Hint, it isn’t who you’d guess. Or, it probably isn’t anyone you’d guess in your first three guesses.
Not Russell Westbrook or Brandon Jennings or Derrick Rose. None of the young guys. Irving says the toughest cover for him was a 38-year-old point guard who refuses to slow down.
GQ: Who was your toughest matchup this year?
Kyrie Irving: Steve Nash.
Kyrie Irving: Everybody says, "He's old," but you don't play against somebody that has 90 screen-and-rolls just for him. Just imagine going through 90 screen-and-rolls and they're just for Steve Nash. He had 16 assists against us. That's ridiculous. It's tiring and I hated it.
That was interesting, wasn’t it?
Another gem from the interview (that you should really read in full) was during an exchange in which Irving was asked about his goals beyond the basketball court:
GQ: What about non-basketball goals?
Kyrie Irving: I want to be on the cover of GQ, that's a personal goal. I want to be interviewed by GQ on camera and I want to do a freestyle for GQ like Drake.
GQ: You're almost done then, man!
Kyrie Irving: And just make sure my family is OK. For me it's not just about me, it's about setting up my little sitter, my little Irvings that I have in the future and just make sure my family is OK, because my dad worked really hard. He still works, he is a bonds evaluator at Reuters. He works hard for me and my sister, so I'm going to make sure he's set and everybody after that.
With so many professional athletes ending up without their fortunes once they're a few years removed from their playing days, GQ followed up with an important question. Irving responded with an impressive answer:
GQ: A lot of NBA players look out for their families. And a lot them claim that's why they're broke after having millions. What are you going to do that's different?
Kyrie Irving: Multiple Bentleys isn't making anyone "financially set." I learned how to say "No." That can go a long way.
While Irving is still very new to the NBA lifestyle, if he can keep this mindset, he’s going to be just fine. Earlier this season, Jackie MacMullan told us the story of Irving’s father.
With a solid support system and a keen awareness that belies his youth, the Cleveland Cavaliers have more than an extraordinarily talented point guard when it comes to Irving. They have a young man who will represent their franchise well as the LeBron era continues to fade from memory.