Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving played his second game of the 2021-22 season on January 10 against the Portland Trail Blazers and finished with 22 points and eight rebounds. However, the Nets lost by a final score of 114-108 to drop to 25-14.
Irving can only play in road games (except in San Francisco and against the New York Knicks at MSG) since he is not vaccinated against COVID-19. The seven-time All-Star is one of the most polarizing players in the NBA due to some of the strange comments he’s said and actions he’s performed over the years, but Blazers head coach and former Finals MVP Chauncey Billups wants people to understand how gifted Irving is as a basketball player.
Chauncey Billups: Kyrie Irving is the most skilled PG in NBA history
Before the Blazers defeated the Nets, Billups called Irving the most skilled point guard in NBA history. The Detroit Pistons legend thinks Uncle Drew is a once-in-a-generation guard who should be appreciated more by basketball fans and pundits.
“Kyrie is just, he’s a wizard, man,” Billups said, via ESPN. “He’s must-see TV. I personally think, as somebody that played the position, I think Kyrie’s the most skilled player that’s ever played that position. Just straight skill. Nothing else. Just straight skill. I think he’s the best that I’ve ever seen at the position, skill-wise. So, obviously, he gives you a ton when he’s playing.”
Billups made five All-Star and three All-NBA teams during his career. He guided the Pistons to the 2004 championship over the Los Angeles Lakers and won Finals MVP by averaging 21.0 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 5.2 assists. Billups isn’t in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, but he’s still revered by current players, which is why Irving was grateful to hear his compliment.
Kyrie Irivng on Chauncey Billups’ comment: “I’m grateful for that”
Irving has been bashed a lot for not getting the COVID-19 vaccine. He hasn’t received much positive public recognition this season. With that said, the one-time champion was thankful for Billups’ comment.
“I definitely appreciate the praise and I definitely agree that my skill level at this point in my career deserves that recognition,” Irving said. “But the work never stops. Understanding that coming from a lot of our OG’s that we call in our league that have built this brotherhood, that have built this culture, it’s incredible to hear that they have that high praise, but like I said in the beginning it’s just more added motivation and to continue to prove it. I’m grateful for that. Coming from him, a championship winner, championship point guard, and it gives me more motivation to continue to write this legacy that I have with incredible teammates.”
Irving is a three-level scorer and one of the best finishers at the basket in NBA history. He also has incredible ball-handling skills. The Duke product has crossed over many players since entering the league in 2011, earning him the nickname “Ankletaker.”
Uncle Drew is a magician with the ball
Irving has career averages of 22.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 5.7 assists with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, and Nets. He’s made three All-NBA teams and won the 2014 All-Star Game MVP. The 2011-12 Rookie of the Year can get to the rim at will and finish in heavy traffic and dominate from the mid-range and 3-point line. He has no weaknesses on offense.
“His shot-making is incredible,” Billups said. “He’s a better passer than people give him credit for. He’s obviously a willing teammate. He’s not just all about Kyrie. He passes the ball. He’s a champion. He brings championship pedigree to the table. I think he hit maybe the biggest shot that I ever seen in NBA Finals history, that I seen.”
Irving hit a step-back 3-pointer over Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry in Game 7 of the 2016 Finals to clinch the Cavaliers’ first championship in franchise history. He’s undoubtedly a controversial player off the court, but he’s one of the best point guards in league history on the hardwood, talent-wise. After all, he’s one of nine players in NBA history to shoot 50/40/90 in a single season.