Cleveland is not only a less than stellar destination for sports in general, but they also have one of the worst owners in the league, Dan Gilbert. Gilbert initially fired Mike Brown with the hope of retaining LeBron James in free agency, publicly blasted James when he left, then rehired Brown to only let him go after one season. Lakers fans are familiar with Brown as a coach. He seems like a nice person, but wherever he coaches, the superstars have free reign to do as they please and the offensive system is nonexistent.
In sports, the greater the talent, the greater the need for a championship coach to transform potential stars into champions by winning titles. It’s no coincidence Kyrie Irving had his worse season this year amidst the turmoil of a toxic locker room. Luol Deng has said he has never seen it this bad, Dion Waiters became the scapegoat for lack of chemistry and Andrew Bynum was removed from the team. Sure, the Cavs should have had a better record based on their talent, but what young talent needs is strong leadership modeled by their coach. Leadership from the top trickles down to the players, especially in terms of effort and mental strength. The Cavaliers culture has become so dysfunctional that no superstar in his right mind can flourish, let alone want to retire there. Don’t forget, Kyrie is only 22 and based on his game, he has at least 10 years to go in his prime.
His light is too bright for Cleveland, but just right for Los Angeles. Praise from your peers at the highest level confirms greatness and if you ask any player from the 2012 USA Olympic team who had the most upside on the Select team, you’d get one answer: Kyrie Irving. During that summer, Irving bonded with Kobe through competition to the point where he challenged him to a game of one-on-one for $50,000. Unfortunately in the next couple of weeks, Irving injured himself and the game never happened, but you have to admire the confidence of this budding star. In 2013, he validated his skills by winning the three-point contest and was the Rising Stars MVP. Even in a down season, Kyrie showed he belonged with the top talent in the league by taking home the 2014 All-Star MVP. There’s no questioning his talent and with the right coach, defense and leadership can be taught.
Kyrie Irving will be a top-three point guard within the next five years. That isn’t a prediction, it’s a fact. If you watch his game, what separates him from most young point guards is his game, although flashy is not based on athleticism. Rarely does he dunk on people or block shots. Instead, his ball-handling skills, footwork, and shooting touch torch his opponents on a nightly basis. Point guards like Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose have games that are exciting to watch, but will diminish over time because the body breaks down. Kyrie can continue to dominate into his 30’s because his fundamentals are what make him special.
So far, Kevin Love is the player that is most linked to the Lakers because of his Southern California connection, but if the Lakers have to choose to go after one of them, Irving is the better choice. Here’s why: the Lakers need a star, not just stats. This is not a knock on Love, but more of an endorsement for Kyrie. Kobe is in the twilight of his career and the Lakers need someone to be the face of the franchise — both on and off the court. In the city of bright lights, Kyrie Irving can be our next shining star.
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