Oklahoma City Thunder: Cavs' Kyrie Irving has Kevin Durant's attention

Durant: “Everybody can see how exciting he is to watch. His handle, his jump shot, his savvy, his poise, he's just a big-game player.”
by Darnell Mayberry Published: February 1, 2013

CLEVELAND — A smile creased Kevin Durant's face at the mere mention of the second-year star.

It's not often that happens when Durant discusses opponents.

But that's the level of admiration the three-time scoring champion has for Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving, the reigning Rookie of the Year who Durant already deems a top-five talent at his position and a player he says he'd pay to see play.

“Everybody can see how exciting he is to watch,” Durant said. “His handle, his jump shot, his savvy, his poise, he's just a big-game player.”

Durant will lead the Thunder into Cleveland to face Irving and the Cavs on Saturday night inside Quicken Loans Arena. It'll be the second and final meeting between the two teams. The Thunder pummeled Cleveland by 15 points in the first matchup back in Oklahoma City. Irving scored 20 points with four rebounds and five assists in that contest.

On the season, Irving ranks sixth in the league in scoring with a 23.9-point average. He's added 3.6 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.8 steals.

What's made it even more impressive for Durant is that Irving can't even legally buy an adult beverage until March 23.

“I like young guys, because I was one of those guys, 20 years old trying to establish yourself,” Durant said. “And to be an All-Star in your second year, that's stuff that doesn't happen on the regular so I've got a lot of praise for him.”

Irving is the sixth-youngest player (20 years, 331 days) in league history to be named to an All-Star team. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he's one of only seven players in NBA history to be selected before turning 21.

Kobe Bryant (19 years, 169 days) is the youngest All-Star of all time, followed by LeBron James, Magic Johnson, Kevin Garnett and Isaiah Thomas.

The maturity with which Irving plays has forced Durant to take notice.

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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