Kyrie Irving and Duke Basketball: Am I Selfish for Not Being Op(toe)mistic?

Gene ZarnickCorrespondent IFebruary 28, 2011

Duke is coming off a four-point loss Saturday night to Virginia Tech that I couldn’t care less about.

Congratulations Hokie Nation!  

You finally beat the Blue Devils for the first time in five years and now you’re on your way to finally reaching your goal of an NCAA Tournament bid.

After so many years of getting their bubble burst, it will be nice to see Virginia Tech as a No. 10 seed on the bracket.

Duke fans don’t hope for mediocrity, we expect superiority.

Even though the game was basically meaningless to Duke, except for the fact that it puts them in a tie with North Carolina for the ACC regular season championship, it still bothers me a little.

Losing doesn’t bother me; knowing the best PG in the nation is sitting on the bench does.

It seems like that’s my reaction every time Duke has faced a loss this season. Only three times for all the Duke doubters out there.

I look towards the middle of the Duke bench, see Kyrie Irving sitting between the scholarship players and the walk-on players and say, “We would’ve won if Kyrie was playing.”

Maybe Kyrie Irving’s my anti-depressant. Some people use Prozac, others drink their tears away; I've got Kyrie Irving.  

Kyrie’s what gives me a glimpse of hope when I’m down after a Duke loss.

Everyone’s drug of choice only lasts so long before they need more of it though. Pop more pills, drink more alcohol—whatever your vice, the more you use it the more you need.

I need more Kyrie Irving.

My hope of a repeat national championship is fading away with each remaining regular season game. With only Clemson and North Carolina left on the schedule, I don’t think I could withstand another loss—at least not with Kyrie on the bench.

There are too many questions that need to be answered.

What if he didn’t get injured? Could Duke have run the table?

How great could he have been? A National Player of the Year candidate?

It may seem selfish to think about these things when I have the No. 4 team in the country with only three losses and a National Player of the Year candidate in Nolan Smith leading us towards another run in the tournament to root on.

You are right. It is selfish, but I don’t care.

Ever since Kyrie verbally committed to Duke University on October 22, 2009, I envisioned him leading us to another national title.

Duke finally got that coveted 5-star point guard recruit that would be able to step in from day one and change the game.

My presumptions were correct.  

In his first eight games as a Blue Devil, Kyrie averaged 17 points, four rebounds, five assists, 1.5 steals, a free-throw percentage of nearly 90 percent and he shot 45 percent from behind the arc.

Unfortunately, those first eight games were also his last.

Now we wait.

We wait to see what comes from the toe injury that sidelined Kyrie indefinitely. We wait to see how Duke fares in the tournament with or without him and we wait to hear the decision on if Kyrie will turn pro or not.

Maybe I’m just tired of waiting.

Kyrie Irving is a Dukie for life no matter if he stays or goes.

In my mind, he will always be considered one of the greatest Blue Devils even if he never plays in an ACC regular season game, in an ACC tournament game or in a NCAA tournament game.

That says a lot about Kyrie Irving.

So is it selfish to want to see Kyrie more than the team, even when Kyrie always puts the team over himself?

It might be, but when you witness someone showing the passion and determination that Kyrie does each and every game, while still being sidelined, then you could only imagine what type of player he would be like on the court.

Selfishness it may be. Probably more curiousness of what it could be.

That’s where I’m at with my Kyrie Irving uncertainty.

I’m at the point now where I’d rather see him get a chance to play North Carolina next Saturday than I would have Duke win back-to-back national championships.

So maybe I’m not being selfish; maybe I just want Kyrie to have one more game in a Duke uniform before he moves on to bigger and better things.

Maybe I just need to see it happen so I no longer need to justify a loss or think about what could’ve been.

Kyrie Irving is my anti-depressant and I need one more hit to get me through this year.

If I get that hit, I'd probably just want more though.


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