Top Draft Pick Kyrie Irving: ‘I’ve Got Some Big Shoes to Fill’

by June 24, 2011

Even though he’s tried to distance himself from it, Kyrie Irving knows the specter of LeBron James looms above everything he’ll do in Cleveland, but he seems to be embracing the pressure that comes with those expectations (for now, anyway.) From the Star-Ledger: “A minute before he stepped onto the stage to begin his NBA career, Kyrie Irving heard the boos. They were not meant for him, of course. Here in Newark, just a few miles from where the West Orange native became a high school star at St. Patrick, he gets nothing but love. No, they were meant for the player who flashed briefly on the screen at the Prudential Center, wearing a white suit and a smile. The scoreboard screen was showing the other No. 1 overall picks of the Cleveland Cavaliers, starting with Austin Carr and Brad Daugherty. Then came LeBron James. And, just in case Irving needed a reminder of the wounds he’ll be expected to help heal in Cleveland, the anger filled the arena just before he shook David Stern’s hand. ‘BOOOOOO!!!’ Irving understands what it means to be a No. 1 pick. He was the one with the camera and the boom mic following him everywhere in the Rock, the one who will forever be on a list with legends like Patrick Ewing, Tim Duncan and Shaquille O’Neal. Being No. 1, Irving said, means ‘that I’ve got some big shoes to fill.’ Those shoes in this case belong to the player who ran out on Cleveland last summer on national television. Irving cannot replace James as a player — he is a building block, not a superstar. But Cleveland fans are getting the type of player fans will love watching, and the type of person whose jersey they can safely buy without ever being tempted to burn it the streets. ‘No. 1 picks, they have a lot of expectations on them,’ Irving said, ‘and I plan on exceeding them.'”