The mood in Cleveland has gone from bad to worse in 24 hours after news broke that All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving is done for the rest of the NBA Finals after an MRI exam revealed a fracture in his left kneecap. The injury normally requires a three- to four-month recovery time, so don’t expect to see Irving in a Cavs uniform until October.
The Cavaliers are coming off a gut-wrenching overtime defeat to the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of The Finals, despite 44 points from LeBron James. It just proves that one man cannot win a game, yet alone win a championship — even if that MAN is the best basketball player on the planet.
You have to feel for LeBron. He’s never really had a completely healthy Robin to his Batman.
James took a Cleveland team to the NBA Finals in 2007 that had a roster filled with a bunch of journeymen. When LeBron took his talents to South Beach, he won two titles but could have had more if Dwyane Wade stayed upright. Wade was completely healthy in just one of the four championship runs in Miami, forcing LeBron to do most of the heavily lifting. Now, LeBron’s new star sidekick, Kyrie Irving, is done for the playoffs.
Cleveland sports fans must be reliving “The Drive” and “The Decision” all over again.
These last two days have to be the worst two-day stretch for the Cavaliers this season. It started with the overtime period in Game 1 at Oracle Arena in Oakland when the Cavs took one on the chin when Kyrie went down.
With under three minutes to play in OT and the Cavs down by four, Irving drove to his right and as he tried to shake off Klay Thompson his left knee buckled. Seconds after Kyrie went down, Harrison Barnes buried a 3-point shot from the corner to give the Warriors a seven-point cushion at the 2:02 mark.
Irving tried to walk the pain off but it became unbearable and he was forced to leave the game. Prior to getting hurt, Irving was having a sensational game, with 23 points on 10 of 22 shots in 43 minutes.
The Cavaliers went scoreless in OT until LeBron scored an uncontested layup just before the final buzzer went off. They went 1-for-10 and was outscored 10-2. But the toughest part of OT was the sight of watching their second-best player limp off the court. Kyrie left the arena in crutches.
“I’m in a little bit of pain,” Irving told reporters after the game. “I tried to decelerate, trying to go by Klay. I don’t know what I felt but obviously it didn’t feel right. This was a little bit different than what I had been experiencing [in the Chicago series]. It was a quick pinch. I could still feel what was going on in my knee. This time I was a little bit different than the other time.”
Irving has been bothered by knee and foot problems since the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, and his body has deteriorated with each round.
“Obviously you can tell from the tone of my voice I’m a little worried. It’s a natural reaction,” Irving said. “The body works in mysterious ways.”
Right now, Irving’s body must be telling him, “enough!”
What made this latest injury extra painful was the fact that Cleveland was in great position to steal Game 1 in a place where only three teams have won all season. Irving said he felt “amazing” coming into The Finals, and even though he wasn’t 100 percent he was impacting the game on both ends. With one bad move, he went from being the old Kyrie to Uncle Drew.
“It’s a little disappointing and frustrating,” Irving said. “This is just a setback that I gotta take it with a grain of salt.”