INDEPENDENCE (92.3 The Fan) – While Cavs fans have played Kyrie Irving’s three-pointer in the final minute of Game 7 on a loop since last June, the Cavs’ All-Star guard can’t remember the last time he watched ‘The Shot.’
Irving has no time to reflect on what he’s already done, no matter how amazing the accomplishment.
Not with a third consecutive NBA Finals meeting with Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors awaiting him and the Cavaliers this week.
“Winning it was an incredible feat for us, but we understand that’s not where we want the storybook to kind of end,” Irving said Monday.
Irving’s shot over Curry with 53 seconds left in Game 7 that helped to end 52-years of torment, misery and woulda, coulda, shoulda is seared into the basketball annals for eternity.
“It’s a great part of basketball history,” Irving said. “It’s a great part of our organizational history. Me as a player, and as well as a moment that I share with my teammates. But the way we capitalized on Game 7, that was awesome. And now here we are in a fresh Finals.”
This year the Warriors waltzed through the west finishing 12-0 in the playoffs while the Cavs were close behind in the east going 12-1 to set up the third installment of what is being dubbed ‘The Trilogy.’
“Even to make it this far is an accomplishment for us, but we understand we’re not satisfied with it,” Irving said. “Our feeling going in is probably a little bit different. The cloud wavering over our head, a lot of things that we wanted to accomplish personally and as a team, it all just went away once we won a championship. Coming into these Finals, we’re a lot more focused and also we’re just dialed in.”
The Cavs and Warriors have become the NBA’s modern Lakers-Celtics. Star-studded teams that respect each other while also having a profound dislike for each other as they fight for basketball’s ultimate prize once again.
Irving has been right in the middle of it all.
In 2015, he suffered a broken kneecap in Game 1 of The Finals and with Kevin Love already lost to a separated shoulder the Cavs pushed Golden State to 6 games before succumbing while feeling like they didn’t get an opportunity to give the Warriors their best shot.
The 2016 Finals were nothing short of legendary that saw the Cavs become the first team in history to come back from a 3-1 deficit to win it all capped by Irving’s shot in the final minute of Game 7 over the 2-time NBA MVP.
On Christmas day it was Irving who buried a turnaround jumper over Klay Thompson in the closing seconds to give Cavs fans a very Merry Christmas while reminding the Warriors of what just happened 6 months earlier.
As the Eastern Conference championship trophy was presented last Thursday night in Boston, Irving smiled at the mention of the Warriors as he bobbed his head up and down knowing what was to come next.
“We also understand that this is just as an exciting matchup for everyone else as it is for us,” Irving said. “You got to take it as that. You got to relish in the competition and the players that we’re going against.”
With Golden State’s addition of Kevin Durant, the Warriors are the undisputed favorites once again but Irving and the Cavs would love nothing more than to stun the basketball world for a second consecutive year and repeat as NBA champions.
“This is what everyone wants to see and this what we all want to be a part of,” Irving said. “I’ve been waiting. We had the regular season, we had the playoffs, been tested — both teams — and now we just meet at the top of the mountain. It’s just a duel for one successor, one failure and I can live with those odds. So we just leave it all out there on the floor.”