The whole point of making people dribble is that it slows you down. That it’s harder than just running. Even faster with the ball is nonsense. But in the hands of certain players, the burden of having to dribble becomes a blessing.
Dribbling is just another way that basketball players communicate. In that sense, Kyrie Irving’s handle has been whispering sweet nothings to desperate defenders since high school. Sometimes it seems like guarding the Cleveland guard would be easier if he couldn’t dribble, so wickedly deceptive are his moves. Defenders are always taught to just focus on a player’s hips and forget the ball—it will lie to you. But defenders can’t help but listen. Especially with Irving. Ask Brandon Knight about that, or anyone brave enough to check Kyrie during NBA All-Star Weekend in Zoom City.
Kyrie’s crossover is so convincing that he doesn’t always have to go around defenders, sometimes they just jump out of his way.
(Thanks for your concern, guys. Jodie Meeks has made real progress in his recovery. But it’s a process. One of those things you never really get over.)
But the real thrill is when he strings four or five crossovers together like some NBA Street button masher: JUST KEEP HITTING CROSSOVER AND TURBO AND HOPE FOR THE BEST.
My personal favorite thing Irving does is actually the most practical, and that’s his hyper-speed crossover.
Even for the best guards, that kind of move at full speed is an invitation to boot that ball into the 17th row. That’s the true genius of Kyrie’s handle: it’s a true extension of his will. It amplifies rather than inhibits his athleticism. Of course, that sort of functional, simple-yet-impossible maneuver is not what people want to see in the All-Star Game. They want the funk. I had to go find the video above and cut it myself. People will be tuning in for the intricate insta-giffable freaky stuff.
And for a guy like Kyrie, who will throw in some real just cause moves in an actual NBA game, the All-Star Game is the perfect place to show it all off.
Kyrie has shown no chill in exhibitions. He’s not about trying to play it cool, have some laughs. Unless, like Kobe, they’re had at Dwight Howard’s expense.
This is exactly how not to play defense against Irving. First step is just to stay away from him. Never, ever switch. But after that, you really shouldn’t TRY. Because you can’t try like in a real game. This is an exhibition, a party, don’t make it weird with obvious effort, screams the whole weekend. If he doesn’t jump he might have escaped with some dignity.
Speaking of not jumping… Brandon Knight is actually doing JUST FINE on this play until he tries to defend the jumper like Coach Cal is charting his hard contests. Here’s the rule: unless you can make it a highlight, don’t even bother to play defense. Steals? Blocks? Fine. Getting a hand up? Not worth it.
My advice: Settle down. Or you might find yourself sitting down in Zoom City.