Originally published in KICKS 15, 2012…

Sneaker Pimp: Kyrie Irving isn’t just fast on the floor—that’s the best way to describe how his rep’s grown off it as well. I moved from Brooklyn to Montclair, NJ, more than five years ago. It’s a cool little city about 15 miles west of Manhattan with a pretty serious football culture, but neither its private nor public high schools are known for producing big-time basketball players (excepting my man Tall Kamal, of course). So imagine my surprise when, as I started reading the Montclair Timesand talking to plugged-in locals, I learned that Montclair Kimberley Academy boasted a high-major prospect from nearby West Orange. It was Kyrie, of course, and he was making a name for himself thanks to his ability to run a team and get in the lane whenever he wanted to. Still, you weren’t exactly hearing “future first-round pick” or “future NBA Rookie of the Year” attached to his name.

Starting at the end of his sophomore year in ’08, however, when Kyrie transferred from MKA to national power St. Patrick in Elizabeth, things started accelerating like Kyrie on a fast break. He became the leader of a team that had long-touted Michael Gilchrist on it. “High-major” became “Duke University-bound.” And not even a foot injury during his one season in Durham could stop Kyrie from becoming, indeed, the first pick in the ’11 NBA Draft. ROY honors followed in turn. What’s next? All-Star Games? The Playoffs? Sneaker campaigns? At this rate, all that and more!

Peace,

Ben Osborne