CHARLOTTE – Kyrie Irving is a magician with the basketball.
How does a magician dream up his tricks? Irving was kind enough to explain himself Wednesday night.
Irving had just tallied a double-double that consisted of 16 points, 10 assists and zero turnovers during 27 minutes of action during Boston’s 108-100 win over Charlotte. He dazzled with the basketball, making multiple eye-popping plays that resulted both in his own buckets and in buckets by his teammates.
One particular play, one that occurred during the final 25 seconds of the first half, stood out above the rest.
Irving accepted an outlet pass from Al Horford in the backcourt and immediately took the ball in transition in a hurry. What wound up happening? Magic.
Irving went on to toss a self-pass at full speed, through his legs from front to back, from his right hand to his right hand, all before accelerating past the defense for an up-and-under, scoop layup with his left hand.
More than two hours after that play took place, Irving stepped in front of the microphones and recalled the play with precision. He explained the process of coming up with his trick on the fly, in the middle of a game, and in the middle of a five-second fast break.
“Initially you see the spacing the weak side. Guys were a little bit behind the play,” he recalled with pinpoint accuracy. “It’s me matched up against Dwight Howard on a very high-paced fast break. [Marcus Morris] is to my right. Frank Kaminsky has got to make a decision coming down in transition who he’s going to guard.
“So, fake with your head, or fake with the ball, or fake with your whole entire body, which I did,” he continued. “Dwight Howard’s (now) behind the play, and then using the basketball rim as a shield to be able to make a finish like that.”
Irving concluded his replay, as if he had been watching it unfold in slow motion on a screen in front of him, and reporters assumed that he was done.
The 25-year-old All-Star then darted toward a different thought.
“That’s the basketball term,” he said with a smile, before jumping into a second explanation.
“Now the showtime term, is just get a bucket,” he said, clearly enjoying this second account a bit more than the first. “Just get a bucket in transition and show the crowd what they came to see.”
Celtics fans should prepare to cover their eyes throughout this season, because they may not be prepared to see what Irving will be doing with the ball on a nightly basis.
Even Irving’s coaches and teammates – professionals, in the middle of games and practices – can’t help but to marvel at the tricks their magician of a teammate is capable of pulling off.
“It’s insane to watch,” said Marcus Smart. “It’s hard not to just sit back and watch sometimes.”
Added Brad Stevens, “He’s got a special handle to him. He’s got a special way about him.”
The world knows that Irving is special, as the world has watched him operate on the globe’s greatest basketball stage – the NBA Finals – the last three Junes.
But Celtics fans are about to watch this guy operate and grow every single night of the 2017-18 season. They’re about to lean just how magical he really is.