The Brooklyn networks secured their ninth straight victory on Monday night, beating the cleveland cavaliers 125-117. The win pushed the Nets ahead of the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference standings to the No. 3 seed, with just a half game separating the two teams. After Brooklyn’s victory, in which Kyrie Irving scored 32 points on 11-of-19 shooting, Cavaliers forward Kevin Love spoke fondly of his former teammate, even going so far as to say the All-Star point guard should have your t-shirt. retired by the franchise when his playing days are over.
“Without a doubt. Absolutely. Immediately after his career ends,” Love said via the plain dealer. “It’s not even a question to me. He needs to be up there. He made the biggest shot in franchise history and one of the biggest shots in Finals history when you consider how it all happened, what it meant to the city “. , what it meant to his legacy, LeBron’s legacy and everything else, including that Golden State team that became a dynasty and was historically great.”
In case you forgot the shot Love mentions, that would be this game-changing 3-pointer that gave the Cavaliers a 92-89 lead over the warriors of the golden state in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals with just under a minute remaining. This shot ended up winning the Cavaliers their first NBA championship and forever immortalizing Irving in Cleveland sports lore.
Yet as much as that moment was a celebration for Irving and the Cavaliers, he only played six seasons with Cleveland, and his departure from the team was an unceremonious one in which he forced his way through. boston celtics. Every time Irving returns to Cleveland, he’s serenaded with boos, and that was no different Monday night, something Love said he didn’t quite understand.
“I really don’t understand the booing,” Love said. “I can understand it, I guess if somebody wants to take it from a political or religious point of view. I don’t know. But I think in terms of Kyrie, the basketball player, and what he meant to the organization, to Cleveland, for Ohio, I think he should get a big round of applause every time he comes around. I think it’s been enough time that we love him for what he meant to this organization.”
After losing 32 points on his former team, Irving reflected on his time with the Cavs and that championship team.
“I had my first and only draft practice here,” Irving said. “The amount of pressure I was putting on myself after prodigal son LeBron James left, and I had to face the ropes after that. Who knows if I was ever going to live up to that? bill? I put that pressure on myself to fill some shoes that were never meant for me. I just wanted to create my own legacy. To do that, I had to endure some tough years where we only had a few thousand people in the stands. I felt, at times, coming home like a lone ranger or a superhero trying to get Cleveland back to the top.
“I think the biggest lesson I learned through that process was that it’s not a lonely road that you’re supposed to take on your own. It takes a lot of help, and we had a great team here that did something special that’s outlined for always. in NBA history. No matter what they say about me or anyone else, they have to talk about that team. They try to isolate me and say, ‘Kyrie, what have you done since you left here?’ It takes building a great team to accomplish something special, and I understand that. I don’t take this moment that I’m in right now for granted because it took me all that time to go through being here in Cleveland to be able to accomplish something special. I’m on a journey to do that with this team here in Brooklyn.”
Although Irving hasn’t reached the top of that championship since leaving Cleveland, he has been on several teams that have been title contenders, such as this year’s Nets team. After a drama-filled start to the season, which included the firing of head coach Steve Nash and the suspension of Irving for promoting an anti-Semitic movie, the Nets have been quietly one of the best teams in the East. Brooklyn is 22-12 with a 9-1 record in its last 10 games after starting the season 2-6, and while they aren’t mentioned among the East favorites as the milwaukee dollars or Celtics, the Nets certainly have the firepower to be in the conversation.
As for Irving hanging his jersey in the rafters of the Cavaliers arena, even though he’s not at the top of any franchise league table, his Rookie of the Year award, the four All-Star appearances he’s made wearing a Cavs jersey and his performance in the 2016 Finals certainly warrants discussion.