In 2011, a rookie out of Duke University named Kyrie Irving had the whole of the NBA feeling dizzy. With the first pick in the draft, he was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers - a team that was still feeling bewildered after being deserted by The King a year earlier. He skipped into the league with a handle that few had seen since Allen Iverson made Michael Jordan stutter back in 1996... but Irving wasn't just making dudes touch earth. He had them dropping to their knees, helplessly gazing as his butter-smooth jumper glided past their sweaty foreheads. SPLASH.

By 2012, Pepsi's ingenious 'Uncle Drew' campaign singlehandedly changed both the basketball and advertising landscape. Regardless of whether the casual sports fan had heard of Kyrie, their favourite player was Uncle Drew. 

"Don't reach, young blood."

Destiny would bring LeBron James back to the motherland in 2014, and an NBA Championship trophy was gifted to Cleveland 2 years later. LeBron was inspiring and in charge, but it was an icy 3-point jumper from Kyrie Irving that would ultimately seal the deal.

Since lifting the championship trophy back in 2016, the league hasn't been so kind to Kyrie. His exit from the Cavs to pursue an identity of his own in Boston didn't go as planned.

Add to that a rocky tenure with superstar, Kevin Durant in Brooklyn - further marred by views about COVID vaccinations that were deemed controversial by the mainstream media - basketball forgot that Kyrie could hoop.

When he joined Luka in Dallas in 2023, the world was divided. Some were more interested in other blockbuster transactions around the league, while others were mistakenly assuming that Irving's best years were behind him. It might have been the perfectly executed left-handed game-winning floater over Jokić back in March that woke us up. For true Kyrie Irving fans, though, seeing him peacefully enjoying success with the Mavs has kept their gaze firmly fixed in Dallas since Autumn last year.

"Basketball forgot that Kyrie could hoop."

While we enjoy the league's big names making NBA headlines and highlights, reeling off of the likes of Tatum, Edwards, Antetokounmpo, Dončić and Booker. Kyrie has been quietly putting up numbers that have stealthily placed the Mavericks in a championship-contending position. Doing so with the same handles that had us gassed in 2011, the same silky smooth jumper that eliminated the competition in 2016. 

This year may just be the year when we see him lift a championship trophy again. This time, though, he does so as a vet. Bringing invaluable wisdom and experience to a mature and title-ready, Luka Dončić. Doing so on a team that values him as a basketball player and respects (and even purposefully makes space) for his personal life and views away from the game. 2024 has seen the great awakening of Kyrie Irving. Only he wasn't sleeping. 

You were.

By Sammy G

Sammy is Bouncewear's Community Manager for the UK. He connects with athletes, clubs, communities and events to further extend the Bouncewear Family. This guy has more SLAM magazines then career points but don't let that fool you or you might get crossed!