While looking up articles about the Cleveland Cavaliers, I came across this article called Kyrie Irving’s Burden by Lee Jenkins on the Sports Illustrated website. This article was written in the spring of 2012 as Irving was emerging as the NBA’s next superstar. It focuses on the stress Irving has to deal in the aftermath of Lebron James departure back in the summer of 2010. Being a die-heart Cavaliers fan, this article jumped out to me because James was suppose to be the one to end the championship drought. He came up short, left town, and won an NBA championship with the Miami Heat last summer. That burden now belongs to Irving and Jenkins dives into the expectations Irving will have to face that James failed to accomplish.
The beginning of the article begins with a beloved Cavaliers fan, Jason Herron, 39, who witnessed the departure of James and was so furious, he ended up burning his James jersey in the aftermath of the decision. Jenkins begins with Herron’s story he is using Herron as an example of what the entire city felt that night in the summer of 2010. He wants to show how one athlete’s decision, changed the history of one sports franchise and the state of grief their fans were at that particular time. Jenkins wants his readers to understand that James’ abandonment was an emotionally roller coaster but Irving has put a Band-Aid on that scar for now. Jenkins’ conclusion to Herron’s story best sums up what the impact of Irving is having on this city:
Irving pointed at his dad, who was sprinting down the sideline. Herron was twirling a brunette through the air. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert tweeted gleefully, “I think I am pretty pleased with the 1st pick, how about you?!” Anger and disgust over James’s departure had been smoldering in Cleveland for a year and half. Fans couldn’t let go. Now the Age of LeBron was over. The Irving Era was underway. “This is a new beginning,” Herron says. “A lot of the hate here has subsided. There is hope now. And it’s because of Kyrie.”
Cleveland is falling in love with another basketball player.
This paragraph shows the new hope Cavaliers fan have now with Irving leading their team in the future.
The article continues with Jenkins’ examining the humble heart Irving often puts forth. This is my favorite part of the article because most young emerging athletes believe they have already arrived and are entitled to greatness. Irving, 19, is not even an adult yet but Jenkins wants his readers to realize is Irving is already mature beyond his years.
The Cavaliers will take the garish numbers, but they also appreciate Irving’s modest gestures. He showed up to his introductory press conference with an entourage of one, his dad. He moved into a downtown apartment instead of a suburban mansion. The first thing he bought with his new contract was a pair of dress socks. “They were kind of expensive,” Irving says. “Big-boy purchase.” He goes out for dinner with rookie forward Tristan Thompson, drafted three spots after him, but they avoid VIP rooms. “We don’t feel entitled,” Thompson says. The day after the Cavs beat Boston, the fourth-grade class at Center Elementary School in Mayfield Heights stopped by the team’s practice facility for a fitness program, and Irving joined in with a pink jump rope. When the event was over, he stuck around and played one-on-eight with the kids, exchanging G-rated trash talk. A club official finally had to remind him the Celtics were back in town the next day. “You wouldn’t know he’s the Number 1 pick,” says guard Anthony Parker. “I think that’s what this organization likes most.”
The conclusion of Jenkins’ article revolves around the hope of the Cavaliers. Irving is the hope for a bright future for this team and to return to a relevant franchise once again. The way Jenkins’ connects Herron’s story, Irving’s humble heart, and the state of the franchise all in the conclusion is well done.
Back in the real world, the Cavaliers are trying to sniff .500, and Irving is fulfilling his rookie obligations, driving 25 minutes with Thompson before every shootaround to fetch Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Scott still believes his breath smells like baby formula, to which Irving dramatically rubs the whiskers on his chin and challenges his coach to another shooting contest. Irving is sinking the long threes and tough twos against Scott and everyone else, lifting Clevelanders from barstools and courtside seats, and guiding them back to souvenir shops, where articles of faith are once again for sale.
This article is so good because it breaks down the state of the Cavaliers starting with the past, present, and future. Jenkins’ has portrayed the state of Cavaliers fans through the life of Herron in a humorous way. He explains that the best quality Irving has isn’t his game but his heart. Finally, he wraps it all up with how this 19 year old kid is already starting to make Cavalier fans “forget about that guy who took his talents to South Beach.” It is a funny, sad and hopeful article all in one and Jenkins does a great job reminding readers the importance of being Irving. This is why this article was so good.