Cavaliers coach Byron Scott had the rare sensation of having a mind-blowing experience that he couldn’t openly talk about – not to Kyrie Irving at least.
When the 2011 NBA draft rolled around, Scott could see in personal interviews and workouts that the Cavs had to select Irving No. 1 overall, but he didn’t want the young man’s head to swell anymore from all the hype and praise swirling around him.
Scott kept to himself then, but Irving’s NBA Rookie of the Year season has allowed him to openly voice his initial impressions about the team’s budding superstar and make a startling comparison to one of the game’s great point guards currently vying for gold in London.
“When we first started talking about Kyrie, the first comparison that came to mind was Chris Paul,” Scott, who coach Paul in New Orleans, said. “But one thing I can say about the two: Kyrie came in as a 19-year-old; Chris came in at 20. And at that particular point, Kyrie’s probably a better basketball player than Chris Paul was at this early stage of his career. It says a lot about where Kyrie is and what potential he has a point guard.”
Scott, who is going into his third season as the Cavs coach, joined Cavaliers President Len Komoroski and General Manager Chris Grant in the final edition of theon Thursday to discuss the team’s prospects for the upcoming 2012-2013 season. Andy Baskin, sports director at NewsChannel 5, moderated the event held at in Mayfield Heights.
Scott flew in from Los Angeles just for the event to support his basketball family. In his primary family, Scott, 50, revealed his son Thomas, 29, will be getting married Saturday. And he’s just become grandfather with birth of Kyla on April 23.
For some of us, it’s hard to imagine the former Lakers shooting guard – once draped in dashing purple and gold and winning NBA titles with Magic Johnson in the 80’s – sporting a little gray stubble under the chin, but there it lies for anyone willing to look.
Here’s a few excerpts from the afternoon:
On Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson becoming the team leaders at such a young age:
“We rely on those two guys heavily. Kyrie has to be a little more of a vocal leader. A lot of times at 19 years old, you don’t want to be bold and yell at guys like Andy Varejao who is 28. You don’t feel you’ve earned that right, and for the most part, they haven’t. This year going into the season, I think he’ll feel a little better about being that leader that we know he can be; that he will be,” Scott said.
On Kyrie Irving’s recovery from a broken right hand he suffered in July:
“He’s moving along nicely. There hasn’t been any setbacks. They figure he’ll be good to go by training camp. So that’s good news. I saw him today. He looked good. No problems at this present time. So we’re happy about that,” Scott said.
On the criticism the Cavs received for drafting Dion Waters:
“He was always in our top 10. We can’t control whether a certain media outlet or commentator hasn’t been to six or seven Syracuse practices or hasn’t spoken to every person on campus. … Although those things may seem unpopular outside of our room, for us, he was always ranked as the top two-guard in the draft,” Grant said.
On when the Cavaliers might win an NBA Championship:
“I really haven’t thought about it, at least I haven’t from a coaching standpoint. This man (Chris Grant) has been great. He hasn’t put that type of pressure on me as far as making the playoffs this year, next year or in two or three years. It’s all about making sure these guys continue to grow as a group. When it happens, it’s going to happen. Hopefully, it’ll happen soon,” Scott said.
On being a young team after losing LeBron James:
“I think at one point, the sports world looked at us as a graveyard. Basically 23 months later, we have the rookie of the year (Irving); we have a second team All-Rookie player (Tristan Thompson); we have two draft picks (Dion Waters and Tyler Zeller) we’re excited about; we have a ton of flexibility. People are starting to say, 'wow, you’re the new Oklahoma City. You’re the new Chicago Bulls,’ " Grant said.
On Dan Gilbert and the meaning of the Cavaliers in the community:
“With Dan, we have a very passionate organization that’s passionate about knowing our role as a team and what it means to the community and how it connects everybody, not only here, but from our receptionist to the mayor. Sports unites everybody in this community. Here we have someone in Dan who gives us that license to dream,” Komoroski said.
Scott on his son getting married:
“My son’s getting married. I really don’t have to do anything for the wedding … except pay.”
The program will appear on Time Warner Cable’s NEON channel 23 and will also be available on Local On Demand channel 411.