Every year we see exciting rookies come into the league and emerge as rising stars in the NBA. They play so well that we wonder what their full potential acutally could be. This was the case this past season when Cleveland rookie Kyrie Irving won Rookie of the Year. Kobe Bryant is not new to the game, in fact he will be turning 34 next month. Even during his 16th season as a pro, Bryant was almost able to lead the league in scoring finishing a tenth of a point per game behind Kevin Durant. So I just want to know one thing: what kind of crazy is Kyrie Irving?
There are two classifications of crazy. There’s Metta World Peace “I’m gonna change my name from Ron Artest to Metta World Peace and then take pictures with befuddled old people” bat shit crazy. Then there’s Rajon Rondo “I’m better than everyone else no matter what anyone else says about me but the second I let myself down I’m running suicides until my feet bleed” motivational crazy. I’m leaning towards the latter here mainly because few people fall into the “start brawls at the Palace because someone threw a drink at me” World Peace category. As a competitor one cannot go into any scenario and assume they are going to lose. If you have that attitude going into it, well, you most likely are going to lose. So I love Irving’s confidence here. Just telling Kobe, “Look old man, you might be able to shoot still, but you can’t guard me.” That’s a true statement. Kobe can still score in bunches when he wants to but he cannot face guard one of the younger, quicker players in the league no matter how badly Laker fan boys would like to believe. So, would Kobe lose to Irving?
Uhh, no. Listen, I love the gusto on Irving. I really do. I wasn’t sold on him at all coming out of Duke because, like Kobe said, he barely played at Duke. And as Bryan Doherty would be glad to remind you, his Blue Devils got manhandled by Derrick Williams’ Wildcats in the NCAA tournament. Mix in my Duke bias and I thought Irving was more of a risk than a franchise point guard. A year later and you have people debating Irving as a top five point guard in the Association. Strange how that happens. But Kobe can still ball. Sure, his team got dusted out of the playoffs for the second consecutive season, but considering that Kobe has the size advantage and the savvy edge most vets have over younger players, I don’t know how well young Kyrie would fare. But, I would love to watch it. Considering $50,000 is going to charity, who doesn’t want to see this?
Last summer during the lockout, basketball kind of went through a bit of a rebirth. We saw players like Durant, Irving, Carmelo Anthony, and even LeBron James go out to some of the top rec leagues in the country just to get their basketball fix. And it was epic. Durant dropping 30-foot pull up threes at Rucker Park all over Youtube demonstrated that some of these dudes really aren’t in it for the money. That they do love the game they are blessed to play. This, along with a condensed schedule, brought in massive ratings for the NBA. As a precursor to the Olympics, I think there would be nothing better than watching one of the game’s most promising young talents square off against a wiley verteran like Kobe. I’d rather watch that than a Chris Brown vs. Drake boxing match. And it would certainly be more competitive than that warm up game against the Dominican Republic. But it needs to happen and it should go down on live TV. Not as some Youtube post a day after it happens.
This year, I’m giving the edge to the Black Mamba. But who knows, Uncle Drew can get buckets.