Kyrie Irving: “Our number one goal is to make the playoffs this season”

October 2, 2012 – 9:30 am by Chris Fedor

The entire NBA world got to witness the next superstar in the NBA a season ago. His name is Kyrie Irving and he plays point guard for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The signs were there early. Irving’s silky smooth jumper, video-game like handle, ability to get to the basket at will against any NBA team and clutch gene were all on display last year as he ran away with the NBA’s Rookie-of-the-Year award. The Cavs got a scare this summer when Irving broke his hand while playing with the USA Select Team but Irving is all healed up and ready to build off the momentum from a season ago. It will more than likely be a struggle once again in Cleveland as they head into the season relying on so many young players but with Irving in the mix it won’t be long until the Cavs return to relevance after LeBron James left the franchise reeling with his “Decision.”

Kyrie Irving joined ESPN 850 WKNR in Cleveland with the Hooligans to talk about how long it took him to stop beating himself up after injuring his hand this offseason, what he thinks he needs to improve on this season, on the improvements the team made this offseason, how tough it was for him to lose so much, how much it would mean to him to win a gold medal, how he feels about the team heading into this season and whether the Cavs are motivated by people outside of Cleveland not expecting too much from them this year.

How long it took him to stop beating himself up after injuring his hand this offseason:

“It took me about two days honestly. My whole shoulder and my whole arm was numb so I was pretty mad at myself.”

What he thinks he needs to improve on this season:

“Just be a better point guard overall, just to slow the game down for myself and my teammates and make better decisions. That’s what it is going to come down to is me leading this team on and off the court along with Andy (Varejao) and Luke Walton. Just being ready every single day and continuing to get better.”

On the acquisitions this offseason:
“Our front office definitely did a good job of drafting two great guys and also making moves in the offseason to add pieces that we need to be successful in this league. I’m just really excited to get started with them. Playing pickup with them, talking to them and developing a relationship, I’m just really excited for it.”
How tough it was to be one of the worst teams in the NBA a season ago:
“It did bother me but I got through it with my teammates and the support system I had around me. Obviously I knew it was going to be a learning experience my first year and obviously this year we definitely have high expectations and we definitely have to understand that this is going to be a day-to-day learning experience for everybody. We have a really young team and as much knowledge as we can attain game to game is really important for our team.”
How important it would be for him to win a gold medal:
“It’s at the top of my list along with an NBA championship. Having that USA across your chest and being able to compete for your country while everyone is watching that’s a tremendous opportunity.”
On the expectations for the team this year:
“I have high hopes for us. Obviously our number one goal is to make the playoffs this year and we’re definitely going to attain that as long as we continue to get better and as long as we compete every single night. Last year, like I said, we had a few limitations but when we were playing those good teams, especially in the second half of the season not having the pieces we needed to compete every single night with the best, it definitely hurt us but this season we added some new pieces and I feel like everybody is definitely taking that next step and getting better as a pro. I’m really excited to get the thing started. I’m healthy, Andy is healthy, Dion (Waiters) is healthy so I’m just happy to see where this thing can go.”

Whether the team is more motivated because people outside of Cleveland aren’t expecting much from the Cavs:

“Absolutely, absolutely. At the beginning of last year nobody had any expectations and going into the All-Star break we were sitting in the eighth seed or fighting for the eighth seed. I feel like we can definitely compete with everybody and we have some tremendous wins last year that kind of get overlooked and we’re always going to be overlooked since LeBron left but it’s time to move forward and we’re going to continue to move forward with the team that we have and we’re going to continue to get better every single day.”
Listen to Kyrie Irving on ESPN 850 WKNR in Cleveland with the Hooligans

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