Opening night and there were enough MVP awards inside two arenas that if you laid them end-to-end they might stretch all the way from American Airlines Arena in Miami to Staples Center in Los Angeles, which is where we’ve already got the 2013 NBA Finals scheduled for next June. Don’t we?
There was LeBron James with his three trophies, Steve Nash with his two, then Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett with one apiece. Toss in Dirk Nowitzki recovering from knee surgery back in Dallas and there were eight MVP seasons represented in the two marquee games that everybody was watching.
But if the parlor game was to pick out an opening night candidate to be named MVP five years from now, maybe it was little ol’ Kyrie Irving hiding in the shadows of Cleveland.
While Dwyane Wade was often breathtaking and James his usual overpowering self, Irving picked up right were he left off as the 2012 Rookie of the Year and was simply splendid in the Cavs win over the Wizards. There were 29 points, six rebounds and three assists. He slashed, he drove, he pulled up to stick in 3-pointers. But more impressive than numbers or any individual highlight was the way Irving simply had everything under control.
Even when Washington wiped out a 16-point lead to go up by two in the fourth quarter, the point guard turned to coach Byron Scott and said “don’t worry” as he checked back into the game. Then he drove the Cavs’ 20-8 finishing kick. Strong stuff for a 20-year-old.
It was an evening to be dazzled by Anderson Varejao’s board work, rookie Dion Waiters’ flash and Tristan Thompson’s solid play. But on an opening night when there were past winners oozing out of the woodwork in Miami and L.A., the future MVP might well have leaped right out of your HDTV screen.
That is, if you knew to look out of the spotlight to find Kyrie Irving.