“Kyrie Irving is a top tier point guard in the league,” T.J. Kidd recently told the Nets Insider blog.
“Both had All-Star seasons before joining the Nets. When my dad came it was via trade. Kyrie joined via free agency after playing for the Celtics last season. So I wouldn’t compare their arrivals. Two incredibly talented basketball players for their times. Kyrie doesn’t have to come in and be the next Jason Kidd for the Nets. He’s won a championship already with the Cavs. He’s a championship caliber player. He just has to come in and be the same Kyrie Irving he’s always been. I think he’s going to be great for the Nets. When my dad came the year before they won 26 games. Kyrie is coming to a team fresh off a playoff appearance. I wish Kyrie the same and even more success my dad has and I look forward to seeing him in a Nets uniform.”
Irving grew up liking the then-New Jersey Nets when they ran the NBA’s Eastern Conference during the days of Jason Kidd, Kenyon Martin and Richard Jefferson.
Irving was a fan of Kidd.
“Watching him play was a pleasure,” Kyrie Irving told me of Kidd when he was hired as head coach of Brooklyn back in 2013.
“His IQ. Just watching the way he plays the game. Not many people have that niche and that feel for the game.”
As a kid, Irving watched that Nets team make back to back trips to the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003. Ironically, the Nets were coached by Byron Scott who lived in Livingston, NJ; a town next door to West Orange.
Scott would later coach Irving earlier in his career with the Cavaliers.
Irving’s NYC and hoop ties run deep.
Irving’s dad, Drederick Irving is a native New Yorker from the borough of the Bronx; as is Irving’s godfather, Rod Strickland.
They both grew up in the Mitchell Houses in the South Bronx.
Irving’s father played basketball at Boston University and ironically had a tryout with the Celtics, Irving’s former team before opting to play overseas basketball.
Strickland saw Kyrie Irving dribble a ball from time to time in the backyard and used to tell Drederick Irving, “He’s going to make you some money.”
The first time Strickland saw Irving play in an actual game was when he was in high school when ironically he played in LeBron James’ camp, where Irving put on an absolute show.
“My first eyes on Kyrie as a hooper, I saw him play in Springfield, Massachusetts,” Strickland told me last summer on the Scoop B Radio Podcast.
“He made passes, but he was such a gifted scorer and ball-handler that he could put the ball in the hole. But I knew he was special right away. There are some things that everybody’s not doing, so when I see somebody play with both hands, the way he was playing with it in high school, that’s special. You don’t see that a lot.”
The Nets have a potent roster with names like Caris LeVert, Joe Harris and Spencer Dinwiddie complimenting Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.
The Nets will likely be without Durant this season as he recovers from a ruptured Achilles tendon.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Jarrett Allen told AM New York’s Derrel Jazz Johnson. “I feel like I had a pretty good season last year. I have a lot to show them. I have a lot of knowledge in my mind that I can share with them.”
Shaquille O’Neal likes the new-look Nets because it gives New York something to talk about in hoops other than the New York Knicks.
“Jay-Z gave them a little steam when he said he was the owner,” Shaq told Scoop B Radio.
“He’s going to be there with KD so they should make a lot of noise. The only unfortunate part for the first time in New York history the Knicks aren’t the important team. That’s kind of funny to me.”