Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving is undeniably one of the top talents in the NBA. In only seven seasons, Irving has amassed some impressive statistics while awing crowds with lightning-quick handles and a deadly 3-point shot.
When he was younger, Irving was compared to another guard of similar stature who had the ability to get buckets: Rod “Hot Rod” Strickland, who happens to be Irving’s godfather.
Strickland had a long, successful career spanning 17 years that saw him play for nine different franchises. He played his best years for the Portland Trail Blazers and Washington Wizards, posting averages of 15.9 points and 8.5 assists per game.
However, he was never a bona fide superstar as Irving is now, and he never made an All-Star team, although he did make the All-NBA second team in 1998.
Strickland is smart enough to know that the Irving comparisons no longer make sense, and he admitted this to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.
“People used to say, he plays like you,” Strickland said. “They was giving me that credit and I had my chest out, but once I saw him in the pros I was like, please don’t make that comparison anymore. He’s on another level. His creativity. His ballhandling, his shot-making capability, his jump shot, the physical play. I mean, just has it all. And then he has that mind-set, he has that killer mind-set where he thinks, ‘I got it, give me the ball, I’m going to make it happen.’ ”
Strickland was still playing in the league when the media began to take notice of Irving and his basketball potential. Strickland admits he had no idea how good Irving would turn out to be.
Jack Winter ·
“When Kyrie was in the ninth grade, my brother Byron called me and told me he’s [going to be] a pro…But I hadn’t seen him play yet. I was ripping and running. I was in the league.”
By the time he got a good look at Irving, Strickland knew that his godson would surpass him. While the comparisons flatter him, they are no longer accurate.
While it is true that the two might have played the game similarly, Irving has elevated his game to a level that Strickland was never able to reach.