Kyrie Irving, fresh off a 40-point performance on Thursday, is in the midst of a career year. The Brooklyn Nets star is averaging a career-high 27.7 points to go along with 4.9 rebounds and 5.9 assists. He’s also shooting at a highly efficient clip, with a 51.6 field-goal percentage, a 42.0 3-point percentage and an 89.2 free-throw percentage.
But those numbers have less to do with what makes Irving one of the most exciting players to watch in the NBA. It’s more his on-court grace, his handles, his clutch gene.
On Friday, another one of the league’s top guards weighed in.
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Damian Lillard Chimes In
After Irving went off for 40 points (on 15-of-23 shooting), eight rebounds and three assists in Brooklyn’s 121-109 win over the Boston Celtics on Thursday, ballislife posted about it on Instagram. Damian Lillard, the Portland Trail Blazers star, then posted a comment in response.
“Most beautiful game in history,” Lillard wrote.
That’s some awfully high praise from the six-time All-Star who is one of the game’s best shooters and playmakers in his own right.
Still, it’s a relatively popular sentiment surrounding Irving.
In a March 5 article entitled “Kyrie Irving generation: Meet the NBA point guards who emulate the Nets star”, The Athletic’s Alex Schiffer quoted Atlanta Hawks rising star Trae Young as throwing similarly high praise at Irving, albeit from a different perspective.
“I remember how he used to always work on his handle,” Young told Schiffer. “Whenever they came out for layup lines, I remember he used to work on his handle from sideline to sideline and just dribbling, feeling the ball. I added that to mine. I do that whenever we come out to shoot or do layups.
“If you’re a fan of basketball, you’ve watched Kyrie. If you’re a fan of getting better, you watch Kyrie. He’s extremely talented offensively. There are not many guys that can score as he does. I’ve tried to take as much as I could.”
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Lillard Has Snuck Into Kyrie’s Comments Section Before
It’s worth noting: This wasn’t the first time Lillard has taken to Instagram to comment on something Irving-related.
In early December, Irving said that he wouldn’t be talking with reporters. He wrote in a statement that “my goal this season is to let my work on and off the court speak for itself,” per ESPN’s Malika Andrews.
Kyrie Irving issued a statement that says, in part: “My goal this season is to let my work on and off the court speak for itself.”
He said he is issuing this statement instead of speaking with reporters. pic.twitter.com/ninUzAnhzC
— Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) December 4, 2020
Then, on December 12, Irving held an Instagram Live session. Lillard snuck into the comments section with a message for Irving.
“Ky bra do your media sessions,” Lillard wrote, accompanying that message with three laughing emojis, per Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks.
A few minutes later, Lillard had a follow-up message: “Sir please do your media sessions.” He followed that with three more laughing emojis.
And a follow up 🤣 pic.twitter.com/qzXjvLOo5V
— Taylor Rooks (@TaylorRooks) December 13, 2020