Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving played for Mike Krzyzewski at Duke for one injury-shortened season before entering the NBA Draft. Irving joined his former coach on Basketball and Beyond with Coach K this week and talked about his transition to the NBA, and the Cavs season so far.
We didn’t get off to the good start that we wanted but I feel like we’re starting to settle down as a team and as a group. We’re trying to find an identity still but I think that’s part of growing up as a young team. In the [Eastern Conference], it’s a lot of opportunity just because it could flip flop so easily. We’re trying to get on a run here, and I’m going to lead this thing. We’re definitely going to make the playoffs this year.
Besides his NBA career, Coach K also asked Irving about the popularity of the “Uncle Drew” character he portrays in commercials.
“I just saw a commercial on YouTube of a skateboarder going to a skatepark,” Irving said, “and he was dressed as an old man and he pulled a skateboard out of a briefcase and he started doing these tricks. Everybody was in amazement.”
So Irving said he applied the same idea into his own career.
“I wanted to translate that to the basketball world,” Irving told Coach K. “It’s just a project that gained a lot of popularity [...] now my nickname in the NBA and across the world everybody knows me as either Kyrie or Uncle Drew, it’s part of my persona now.”
Ohio State men’s basketball is ranked No. 11 in the country. They are one of three Big 10 programs ranked in the top 25. Head coach Thad Matta also joined Coach K this week and talked about what makes the conference so strong.
“You’ve got a veteran league,” Matta told Coach K. “There’s a lot of players that have been in this league a long time. [...] Going on the road in the Big 10 is as challenging as it could possibly be.”
Matta said much of the Buckeyes’ success can be attributed to senior point guard Aaron Craft.
You’ve had many great players and you know when you have those special ones where you sit down right before tipoff and say, “I know we’re going to think the game the right way and do the things that we’re supposed to do,” but you’ve got a guy out there that understands what needs to be done, how it needs to be done and when it needs to be done, and that’s Aaron to a T. He plays for Ohio State and I think people don’t understand that completely, but he’s trying to help Ohio State win.
Coach K takes to the airwaves Thursdays at 6 pm ET throughout the college basketball season on SiriusXM College Sports Nation. Basketball and Beyond with Coach K, co-hosted by Dave Sims, is in its ninth season, and is available live on Ch. 91, on the SiriusXM app and on SiriusXM On Demand.
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