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NBA Icon Knights Kyrie Irving Greatest Ball-Handler ‘Ever’

Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving (11) brings the ball up the court during the fourth quarter against the Boston Celtics at American Airlines Center.

Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving earned one of the highest possible praises this week when Hall of Fame guard Allen Iverson named him as the best ball-handler of all time.

Making an appearance on fellow league legend Shaquille O’Neal’s The Big Podcast, Iverson was asked whether Irving has a more complete handling package than him. Here was his response:

NBA Icon Knights Kyrie Irving Greatest Ball-Handler ‘Ever’

Kai vs. AI

Irving is no stranger to superlatives. As one of the most polarizing players in the NBA, it comes with the territory. Nonetheless, the eight-time NBA All-Star has been a walking highlight since his rookie season.

Drafted with the No. 1 pick out of Duke by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2011, Irving was tasked with leading the former Eastern Conference powerhouse back to prominence following LeBron James’s infamous decision to leave the franchise for the Miami Heat in 2010. The eventual Rookie of the Year, it was clear early on that he’d be one of their best draft picks.

Catlike with his low dribble, Irving is a masterful puppeteer as a ball-handler. It’s magnificent watching how tightly he has the ball on the string, and one can only picture the thousands of hours of practice that went into the excellence. Yet, despite his advanced technique, he’s as unpredictable as he is exhilarating.

It only makes it better that he’s also one of the best shot-makers in league history. In fact, his career scoring average (23.5) ranks 28th all-time. He ranks 13th among active players in career points (16,552). Capable of scoring from every area of the floor, Irving pours in buckets with various spins, counters, fadeaways, and layups.

Former Philadelphia 76ers superstar Iverson — who went on to play for three teams after leaving the Sixers — was superb himself. One of the more athletic point guards, his quickness and craftiness made his snatchback dribble a lethal weapon. While Irving has a more complete ball-handling package, Iverson was undeniably one of the best in that area as well.

Give Kyrie Irving His Flowers

Most of the discussion surrounding Irving focuses on his personality and interests.

Indeed, the now 31-year-old has alienated many fans with controversial viewpoints. While he’s a player who’s done many commendable works, the best one can say about Irving is that he’s trying to make a positive impact. At times, the outcome does not match the intention. Still, though he deliberately causes disruption, it would be untrue to say he purposely wronged people.

His reputation among the media is another point of contention, as he can be alternately cryptic and abrasive. Yet, the disdain stemming from this isn’t reserved for him. Players such as Phoenix Suns superstar Kevin Durant face similar critiques. Like Durant, Irving is also maligned for his decision to leave teams in the prime of his career.

Nonetheless, like Durant, Irving is an NBA champion who made a legitimate mark on league history. When discussions about Irving occur, there will always be those with mixed feelings about him. That said, it’s time to give him his rightful recognition as one of the most spectacular talents to enter the association.

Over the years, players have become increasingly talented perimeter players, honing their guard skills. Even still, there’s no player in the league today— nor an NBA prospect — that plays like Irving. Though a player like Jamal Crawford comes to mind, the difference in their production and efficiency only underscores just how impressive Irving is.

When he finally decides to retire, it’s unlikely that the NBA world will see another player like Irving for a long time, if ever.


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