Kyrie Irving has been vocal in the last 24 hours. The Brooklyn Nets point guard, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ first pick in the 2011 NBA Draft discussed hitting “The Shot” over the outstretched arms of Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals.
“Yo honestly, first off fear is not real in my book when I try to explain it,” Irving told Jeremiah Green in an interview on Instagram Live.
Green and Irving were high school teammates at St. Patrick’s High School in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
“You try to explain the best way,” recounts Irving.
“That zone you try to put yourself in when you’re in a moment that you’re playing against the best or you feel challenged the most. Or you have a playoff series where things are very challenging. I don’t think anyone realizes how many things have to go right for you to be on that stage and be successful. It’s a competition, so there’s going to be evenflows of the game and we had a very special team that year.”
Irving then broke down the makeup of that Cavaliers team that was led by himself, LeBron James, Kevin Love, Richard Jefferson and J.R. Smith.
“You know, we were older,” Irving, a six-time NBA All-Star and the NBA’s 2012 Rookie of the Year said.
“It was 2016, a lot of our veterans were in their 30s or really on the tail end of basketball and that’s all they knew. They knew about the IQ of the game, the appreciation was just different and when I think about fear in that case, I’ve been playing basketball my whole life, it’s not really anything that’s different for me except I gotta make sure that this move works and that I practice it enought times so that it’s part of my game. And I say all of that to say [that] the more you prepare yourself for those type of moments, the better off you’ll be.”
Kyrie Irving then said that he’d been preparing for these moments all of his life in his backyard in New Jersey.
“I used to be in my backyard counting down 5-4-3,” he said.
“And I used to imagine Kobe [Bryant] defending me or J-Kidd defending me; all the best players in the league–Shaq blocking my layups. I just started practicing things as my imagination started to evolve. [I was] imagining Shaq at the rim…if Shaq’s at the rim you have to throw that baskeball high as heck otherwise he’s gonna get it. You think about going against Amare Stoudemire and then you see these guys up close at 19 years old.”