Former Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith explained just how good Kyrie Irving was during their time in Cleveland together on a recent episode of the Old Man and the Three podcast.
Smith talked about how elite of a scorer Irving is, saying that he forgot that LeBron James was on the court during one Irving performance against the San Antonio Spurs.
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“The things that he would do is – you would think Bron was on the bench,” Smith said. “The way he’s scoring. The way he’s just like – going nuts. We played a San Antonio game, he had 55 on Tony Parker. Oh my god, I forgot Bron was on the court.”
That’s some massive praise from Smith, and it shows just how respected Irving is as a player in the NBA.
During his time in Cleveland, Irving helped the Cavs make the NBA Finals and eventually win a title in the 2015-16 season. Cavs fans will never forget the 3-point shot that Irving hit over Stephen Curry to give the Cavs the lead over the Golden State Warriors in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals.
Irving was named an All-Star in the 2022-23 season. He finished the campaign averaging 27.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game while shooting 49.4 percent from the field and 37.9 percent from beyond the arc.
To play alongside a superstar like James, who may be the greatest player in NBA history, and outshine him on occasion is an amazing accomplishment.
Smith, who spent a good chunk of his later years of his career playing with James, is about as good of a source for Irving’s greatness as fans will find.
Irving is set to become a free agent this coming offseason, and it will be interesting to see where he lands next. The Mavericks, who traded for Irving at the trade deadline in the 2022-23 season, will likely try to keep him to avoid losing him for nothing in the open market.
An eight-time All-Star, Irving should be one of the more coveted players in free agency this coming offseason.