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Kyrie Irving

Sport: Basketball

Born: March 23, 1992

Town: West Orange

Kyrie Andrew Irving was born March 23, 1992 in Melbourne, Australia and grew up in West Orange, New Jersey. His father, Drederick, was a college player at Boston University and was playing for the Bulleen Bombers when Kyrie was born. The Irvings moved to New Jersey when he was a toddler. When Kyrie was four, his mother passed away and he was raised by his father and aunts.

Drederick continued to play organized basketball into his 30s and taught his son the ins and outs of the game. Kyrie became a lightning-quick guard, sharpening his game in AAU ball while playing for Montclair Kimberley Academy as a freshman and sophomore. MKA won the state title in his second season with the Cougars. Kyrie transferred to St. Patrick High in Elizabeth his junior year, joining Michael Kidd-Gilchrist on one of the top prep programs in the state. The Fighting Celtics won the state title in 2009. During his time at St. Patrick, Kyrie was selected for numerous all-star teams and tournaments. He led Team USA to a gold medal at the FIBA Americas Under-18 Championships.

Kyrie was ranked the #1 point guard in the nation. In the fall of his senior year, he committed to Duke University. He was on his way to Freshman of the Year honors in 2010–11 when he injured a ligament in his right big toe in his 9th college game. He was averaging 17 points and 4 assists per game at the time. He returned in time for the NCAA Tournament, but Duke lost to Arizona in the Sweet 16. Kyrie netted 28 in the loss. As it turned out, this would be his final game for Duke. He declared himself eligible for the NBA Draft.

The Cleveland Cavaliers took Kyrie with the #1 overall pick. He averaged 18.5 points and 5.4 assists per game, won Rookie of the Year honors and was named MVP of the Rising Stars Challenge at the All-Star Game. In his second season, Kyrie was selected to play in his first All-Star Game, and scored 15 points. It was the end of a busy weekend—he also won the 3-Point Shootout and scored 32 points in the Rising Stars game. Earlier in the year, Kyrie became the youngest player to score 40 points in Madison Square Garden. He finished the season averaging 22.5 points and 5.9 assists. In 2013–14, Kyrie was voted to the starting lineup of the All-Star Game. He tallied 31 points and 14 assists in a 163–155 victory for the East and was named MVP of the game. Two weeks later he had his first triple-double. Kyrie finished his third pro season averaging 20.8 points and 6.1 assists.CavsSI

The 2014–15 campaign saw the Cavaliers go for broke. Lebron James returned to Cleveland and the team acquired power forward Kevin Love. The three stars never entirely meshed, but Kyrie had a fabulous season. He dropped 55 points (including 11 3’s) on Portland in a January game, and then scored 57 against the Spurs in March to break Lebron’s team record of 56. It was the most points ever scored against a defending champion by someone not named Chamberlain. He finished the season averaging 21.7 points and 5.2 assists.

The Cavs pulled together in the second half and were unstoppable as the playoffs began. Unfortunately for the team’s championship ambitions, Kyrie injured his knee in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Atlanta Hawks. He played one game in the NBA Finals against the Warriors before a fractured kneecap benched him for the series, which Golden State won in 6 games.

Off-season surgery did not have Kyrie ready for opening night in 2015–16, but he was able to rejoin the Cavaliers on December 20th. He shifted into high gear at the end of January, averaging 25 points a game during one 8-game stretch. At season's end, Kyriewas at 19.6 ppg in 53 contests, helping the Cavs finish with the best record in the East.Cleveland swept the Pistons in the opening round of the playoffs—with Kyrie posting a pair of 31-performances—and dropped just two games on their way to a rematch in the NBA Finals with the Golden State Warriors.

This time, with a full cast, the Cavs held their own. Although they fell behind 3 games to 1, they grabbed the momentum in the series with a Game 5 victory that saw Kyire and James each score 41 points. It marked the first time teammates had topped 40 in a Finals game. Game 6, in Cleveland, went to the Cavaliers. Game 7, in Oakland, was a see-saw affair that was tied at 89–89 in the final minute. Kyrie, who was hitting jumpers and twisting drives all night, canned a fall-away 3-pointer over Steph Curry to win the game. He and fellow New Jerseyan JR Smith were NBA champions.

The Cavs returned to the NBA Finals in 2016–17 behind Kyrie'snest season as a pro. He topped 40 points on several occasions, including 42 against the Celtics in the playoffs and 40 against the Warriors in the Finals, which Cleveland lost 4 games to 1. After the season, Kyrie expressed an interest in getting out from under James's shadow. The Cavs accommodated him with a trade to those same Celtics.

 

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