In a moment of frustration after a turnover, the Cleveland Cavaliers Kyrie Irving slapped the protective padded wall behind basket. Players have done the same thing countless times. For Irving, the act cost him a broken right hand.
The reigning NBA rookie of the year, who dazzled in scrimmages against Team USA in preparations for the London Olympics, returns to Cleveland today to have his hand examined and faces corrective surgery. The team said Irving was in Las Vegas practicing with Cleveland’s summer league team.
The Cavaliers expect Irving to be ready for the start of training camp in late September, but will not know for sure until after he is examined.
“It was just a freak accident,” said Irving, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft. “I am a little disappointed. I have to be more responsible about my health. It was just crazy. It happened so fast.”
Irving’s injury was devastating for the 20-year-old, who recently wowed observers during workouts against the American team loaded with NBA all-stars. Irving also had made headlines by challenging Kobe Bryant to a game of 1-on-1 with the loser promising to pay $50,000 to the winner’s charity — a video of Bryant and Irving engaging in trash talk has become a hit on the Internet.
A quick and cunning ball handler, Irving averaged 18.5 points, 5.4 assists and 3.7 assists in his first pro season, easily earning to the top rookie accolade. That was doubly impressing considering he played just 11 games in college at Duke because of a foot injury before entering the draft.
He missed 14 games last season with injuries: 10 with a shoulder injury, three with a concussion and one when he was ill. To now be sidelined unnecessarily. . .
He has given the Cavaliers and their fans reason to believe the franchise can return to prominence following the painful departure of LeBron James. But he needs help.