How can you tell if a player is truly elite? Not just top notch, but one of the great ones? It’s not All-Star games. A lot of players get to be All-Stars. There’s All-NBA selections — now you’re closer. Then there’s max contract and also the shoe deal. Kyrie Irving has those. The Cleveland Cavaliers guard was not just an All-Star three straight years, but the All-Star MVP in 2014. Irving the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NBA draft, then Rookie of the Year. He was named All-NBA Third team this year. He’s far and away the second best player on the Cavaliers — and one of the best in the league.
Going into the 2015 NBA Finals, Irving is up against reigning MVP Steph Curry, the player most people consider the best guard in the NBA. Curry occupies multiple spots Irving covets and is capable of achieving: MVP, All-NBA First Team, etc. Irving might be as good right now as Curry is, though their situations make the Warriors Curry’s team, while the Cavaliers are primarily driven by the incomparable LeBron James. Up against Curry, Irving has a chance to change the narrative. (Curry came out of a solid basketball program in Davidson, but Irving has the Duke pedigree. Both men’s fathers played professional basketball, though Irving’s played his in Australia.) Irving was built and groomed to be the best basketball player in the world. The Finals are Kyrie Irving’s big fat chance to emerge as, at the very least, the best guard in the land.