Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons lately due to his refusal to comply with New York City’s vaccination requirement, but that has done little to erase the fact he’s one of the most unique talents in the history of this game. Fellow hoopers like Andre Iguodala seem to co-sign that statement.
The NBA has been unveiling their NBA 75 Team, effectively making a list of the 75 greatest players in league history. The list is primarily composed of the league’s 50th Anniversary Team and a collection of elite talent that has emerged in the 25 years since.
The current Nets already had two players featured in this Top 75, as Kevin Durant and James Harden were both stamped for inclusion on this team. Despite all of the accolades he has acquired in his career, Irving has been excluded from this list and it’s evident Iguodala isn’t a fan of that.
Iggy took to Twitter to claim that not only is Irving worthy of inclusion, but he’s worthy of being named a top 20 player of all time. That’s … wow. Heavy endorsement. Putting Irving in that sort of elite tier might be a bit of an overstatement to put things politely, but should testimonies like that mean Kyrie should be included among the 75 best to ever do it?
Should Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving make the 75th Anniversary Team?
Irving has averaged 22.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 5.7 assists per game for his career. He’s averaging 25.2 points per game over the last five seasons with Cleveland, Boston, and Brooklyn. Irving can also claim to have been the No. 2 option on a title team that orchestrated the greatest upset ever, which some players on that 75th Anniversary Team can’t flaunt.
If you want to look beyond the box score, Irving has consistently been one of the most unstoppable players with the ball in his hands in the entire sport. His handles and dribbling skills are legendary, and his efficient shooting has turned every team he’s been on in the last half-decade into a playoff fixture.
Accolades might end up being what limits his case. Seven All-Star games is a plentiful tally, but it’s less impressive than a good chunk of the players already selected. Irving has yet to receive an All-NBA First-Team selection in his career despite promising numbers, though he has made All-NBA Second Team once and All-NBA Third-Team twice.
If you’ve never been considered one of the two best guards in the league at any given time, it’ll be hard for the panel who voted on this team to put you in that elite tier.
Additionally, Irving has been the unquestioned best player on his team only a handful of times in his career. The results of that ended up being constant losing with the Cavaliers before LeBron James returned, a somewhat disappointing two-year run in Boston, and an injury-marred season in Brooklyn before Durant came back from injury.
These sorts of lists and rankings can be difficult to get any sort of consensus on. While players like Bill Sharman and Paul Arazin are on the NBA 75 squad for their exploits in the 50s, it’ll be hard to convince younger modern fans that their successes in an athletically inferior era stack up to what someone like Irving was able to accomplish today.
Irving will without question be inducted into the Hall of Fame later in his career, but putting him in the top 75 players ever might be a bit of a stretch. Iguodala is allowed to be supportive of Kyrie’s career accomplishments, but calling him Top 20 at least is incredibly hard to justify.