Just when Cleveland Cavalier fans were getting excited about all the news flowing out of the Olympic basketball camp of point guard Kyrie Irving playing exceptionally well, something like this happens. Irving, who was participating with the Cavs Summer League team after his stint with the Olympic select team, fractured a bone on the outside of his right hand Saturday evening.
Irving was off to such a great summer training session until this “freak accident” happened. In the first scrimmage between the U.S. Olympic team and the select team Irving scored 11 points in a 14-11 select team victory, wowing the likes of Team USA managing director Jerry Colangelo. Colagelo was so impressed by the play of Irving during his Olympic training period that he even said that he could earn a spot on the 2016 men’s team in Brazil:
He’s that far advanced in terms of his talent, it appears. He’s made a good showing here. He had a terrific rookie season in the NBA and certainly he will be one of the leading candidates going forward.
Irving has shown maturity all summer long, but his move that puts him out for two months shows that the young fella still has some things to learn. Scouts and coaches who have been watching Irving all week at Olympic practices have said that he has shown qualities of a leader, even though he is only 20 years old. For example, Irving would go over to the 2012 USA Team after practice and shoot with them instead of sticking with the select team. Irving wants to be great, but he still has a lot of learning to do.
The head coach for the Olympic squad and Irving’s head coach at Duke Mike Krzyzweski had this to say about the possibility of Irving playing for future Olympic teams:
When he was making a decision as to whether or not to play for the United States or for Australia I told him that I believed he eventually will be a starting guard for the U.S. team at some time in his career and for him just to get involved with the whole process. He’s as good a player as the select team has and has shown his talents very, very well here. He’s outstanding and he’s a terrific, terrific young man.
On Friday Irving challenged Kobe Bryant to a one-on-one basketball game with the loser having to donate $50,000 to a charity of the winner’s choice. In a hilarious video that went viral in seconds, Irving and Bryant go back and forth with the trash talking. Irving may be able to hang with Kobe for a little bit, but he needs to improve defensively before he starts challenging NBA All-Stars. The reigning Rookie of the Year obviously can’t go up against Kobe in the near future after what happened Saturday.
After turning over the ball in a Summer League practice, which started on Friday, Irving hit a padded wall out of frustration. I guess the wall wasn’t very padded after all, as Irving continued to play, but then removed himself from the practice after hitting his hand again. He was later diagnosed with a right hand fracture after taking X-rays at Spring Valley Hospital in Las Vegas, where the summer practices are taking place. Irving is expected to be out anywhere from six to eight weeks, but nothing has been totally confirmed.
Irving talked with the Akron Beacon Journal about his injury Saturday:
I’m a little disappointed for a freak accident like that. I have to be more responsible about my health. It was crazy. It happened so fast. That thing I did, hitting the padding on the wall, I’ve done it so many times. This time it was just a freak accident.
There is no clear cut date for Irving’s return until he receives an exam at the Cleveland Clinic on Sunday, but the rising star is expected to be ready by September when training camp rolls along. As soon as he is being done evaluated in Cleveland, doctors will release a more accurate return date for Irving. He will receive surgery on his hand in the coming days.
Kyrie missed a lot of time during his freshmen season at Duke after injuring his toe in the second half of a game against Butler. He returned for three NCAA tournament games before Duke’s season ended against Arizona in the Sweet 16. In his first NBA season Irving missed 14 games, 10 with a sprained right shoulder.
Injury has befallen the basketball career of Kyrie Irving so far, but I don’t think there is anything to panic about right now. Like the Cavaliers point guard said, it was a freak accident. Injuries like this happen, but they are also easily avoided. The young star will learn from his mistake, and that’s all he can do. It would have been great to see him dominate the Summer League, but his great Olympic play already has me excited to see the Cavaliers floor general suit up again in September.
Irving had this to say concerning his availability for the Cavaliers’ training camp:
I feel like it just happens. Plays just happen. It’s uncontrollable. I’ll be fine. Hopefully I’ll be in shape for Coach Scott’s crazy training camp.