Kyrie Irving Looked Like A Nineteen Year Old Rookie In NBA Debut

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 26: Kyrie Irving #2 of the Cleveland Cavaliers walks up the floor after a time out against the Toronto Raptors during the season opener at Quicken Loans Arena on December 26, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio.

Byron Scott told the Cleveland media before the Cavaliers opener on Monday that his decision to start the number one overall pick out of Duke in his first NBA game, over veteran PG Ramon Sessions, became “easy” once he decided on who he’d initially surround Kyrie Irving with in that Cavaliers starting unit.  

Instead of opting to start fellow first round pick Tristan Thompson for example, alongside Irving right out the gate, Scott opted to go with a more veteran laden group featuring a player who once – a long, long time ago – was an All Star at Thompson’s Power Forward position. Antawn Jamison (6 for 20 from the field) is not an All Star anymore though, and neither he nor the other two veterans (Anthony Parker and Anderson Varejao) did all that much specifically to help out Irving in the end.

Nor did Toronto Raptors Point Guard Jose Calderon do much to help out the young guard either for that matter.  Calderon kinda torched Irving all night, finishing with 14 points and 11 assists, and helped lead his Raptors squad to converting 35 assists on their 42 baskets. Irving, to his credit, finished with 7 assists and only 1 turnover, but he shot a woeful 2 for 12 from the field in addition to his struggles on the defensive end.  

After the game Irving said he was disappointed the debut didn’t go the way he had hoped.

“It’s disappointing, you want to play really well when the whole world is watching. But it’s a learning process.”

A learning process that Coach Byron Scott maybe helped expedite by inserting Irving back into the game late in the 4th quarter after back-up Point Guard Ramon Sessions (Game High 18 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds) helped cut what was once a 14 point second half Raptors lead to 4.  

Cleveland would’ve had a better chance of winning Irving’s debut on this particular night if Sessions would have helped finish things off for the kid, but Scott said he wanted to see what Irving can do in those types of situations. In this case it didn’t go particularly well for the kid.

“It’s good for the rookie to be out there. I’ve got to learn what this young man can do.”

Or maybe he made a mistake and that sounds like a good way to spin it. Or maybe that’s what he actually means and I am wrong to suggest cynicim regarding a comment like that because there is no way I actually know what Byron Scott or any other person is thinking in his head.

In any event, one of those things that Cavs fans, along with Ramon Sessions, did learn about Kyrie Irving throughout the night is that he can handle the basketball pretty well on the NBA level. Besides struggling on defense and shooting the basketball, he also did do a solid enough job facilitating things.  

Something Sessions mentioned to the media after the game as well.

“I told Young Fella, you’ve just got to be patient,” Sessions said. “You’ve got 65 more games. At the end of the game I showed him his assist-to-turnover ratio. The shot is gonna come. But that’s the stat you want when you run the team. He ran the team, seven assists and one turnover? You’d take that any day.”

If Antawn Jamison doesn’t shoot 6 for 20 from the field maybe those 7 assists turn into 10+ too, who knows.  What we do know is that there are most certainly 65 games left, and at least Kyrie Irving was able to get that first one out of the way. I imagine he’ll be forced to think about things like how he’s the first number one overall pick to play for a team who’s last number one overall pick was LeBron James a little less as the seasons winds forward. 

Brendan Bowers

About Brendan Bowers

I am the founding editor of I am also a content strategist and social media manager with Electronic Merchant Systems in Cleveland. My work has been published in SLAM Magazine, KICKS Magazine, The Locker Room Magazine,,, and elsewhere. I've also written a lot of articles that have been published here.