At the time, scouts and draft analysts deemed the 2011 NBA Draft class one of the shallowest in history. Almost a decade later, it has become known as one of the most loaded, with No. 1 overall pick Kyrie Irving just one of a number of stars to come from that draft.
While Irving has his flaws in terms of leadership and durability, his incredible shotmaking and ball-handling wizardry make him one of the top point guards in the NBA. Within a still ever-growing NBA career, the one-time champion has had his share of big moments. Here are a few of his most memorable ones.
Kyrie Irving took on his alter ego “Uncle Drew” back in 2012. The young point guard donned prosthetics that transformed him into an old man, then proceeded to cross over younger guys during a pickup game, impressing a Pepsi-drinking crowd. It has since become a famous moniker for the six-time All-Star.
Irving eventually starred as the character in a 2018 film titled “Uncle Drew,” along with former basketball players and famous personalities. The original Pepsi advertisement shorts, however, remain more iconic than ever:
2012 Rising Stars against Brandon Knight
Kyrie Irving has always been a fantastic dribbler, and from the start of his career, he let everyone know it. During his sophomore year, Kyrie dazzled fans during his 2012 Rising Stars performance. The Duke product delivered during a usually no-defense weekend, dropping Brandon Knight on three consecutive possessions.
The 6-foot-2 point guard not only finished that game as MVP, but he also solidified his reputation as a player who’s a nightmare for anybody to guard:
57 points vs. Spurs
In LeBron James’ first season back in Cleveland, Kyrie Irving set a career high by going for a whopping 57 points on March 12, 2015 against the San Antonio Spurs. Irving shot a sparkling 20-of-32 from the field while making all seven of his 3-pointers and all 10 of his free throws.
Irving hit a clutch 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the game to overtime, and the Cavs ultimately pulled out a 128-125 victory thanks to his heroics:
Ah, the shot.
When you ask an NBA fan to recall an iconic Finals bucket over the past decade, most of them will likely mention two plays: Ray Allen’s Game 6 3-pointer against the San Antonio Spurs in 2013 and Kyrie Irving’s Game 7 game-winner over Stephen Curry in 2016. The latter earned Irving and the Cleveland Cavaliers their first-ever NBA title.
After impossibly digging out of a 3-1 hole, the series was tied 3-3. Against all odds, the Cavs were close to making the greatest comeback in NBA history, but they needed a final push. They were on a 73-9 team’s home court, and the atmosphere could not be any more against them getting the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
Kyrie pulling up for a heavily contested shot in that crucial moment and burying it makes this bucket one of the most cold-blooded shots in NBA history:
Kyrie Irving recreated one of the Warriors’ most haunting nightmares during a rematch on Christmas Day 2016. With 3.4 seconds left, the Cavs star guard dropped a turnaround jumper over Klay Thompson, much like he did in June’s NBA Finals:
The Cavs took home a 109-108 victory in the marquee matchup, with the two teams living up to the hype.
Unfortunately for Cleveland fans, this was the last season the former No. 1 overall pick donned a Cavs jersey. Irving demanded a trade and went to the Boston Celtics in 2017, and he has since signed with the Brooklyn Nets. The guard scored 50 points in his Nets debut, adding another notable moment to his résumé.