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Kyrie Irving Channels Inspectah Deck in the 2016 Playoffs

You don't think Kyrie Irving has been hungrily waiting for this moment? After suffering the devastating knee injury in Game 1 of last year's NBA Finals against Golden State that sidelined him for more than six months, you don't think he was more than perturbed with all of the Steph Curry worship? The talk of Russell Westbrook's dynamism? The accruing love flowing in the direction of Chris Paul as his Hall of Fame resume gets bolstered? The excited chatter about Damian Lillard leading a resurgence in Portland? I'm pretty certain that Kyrie was marking off the days until the postseason started so he could make his own statement, with an exclamation mark.

You don’t think Kyrie Irving has been hungrily waiting for this moment?

After suffering the devastating knee injury in Game 1 of last year’s NBA Finals against Golden State that sidelined him for more than six months, you don’t think he was more than perturbed with all of the Steph Curry worship? The talk of Russell Westbrook’s dynamism? The accruing love flowing in the direction of Chris Paul as his Hall of Fame resume gets bolstered? The excited chatter about Damian Lillard leading a resurgence in Portland? 

I’m pretty certain that Kyrie was marking off the days until the postseason started so he could make his own statement, with an exclamation mark.

After hobbling through last year’s Eastern Conference Finals against Atlanta and the fractured kneecap that relegated him to a sideline observer against the Warriors in the Finals, most people fail to remember how special he is when fully healthy.


How quickly they musta forgot how he pushed the rock while the Cavs won 34 of their final 43 games last year prior to the playoffs, and how he introduced himself to postseason play with his 30-point gem in his very first playoff game last year against Boston.


So imagine his disdain, if you can put yourself in his Nike’s, at hearing that he’d fallen off this year, that many other players like Reggie Jackson, Jeff Teague, Kemba Walker, John Wall, Isaiah Thomas and Kyle Lowry had surpassed him, in addition to the aforementioned A-list floor generals.

Well Irving has been letting everyone know, since the real season began with Cleveland’s opening round sweep of the Detroit Pistons, that he’s taken all that talk personally.

And like Inspectah Deck told his competitors in Da Mystery of Chessboxin’, Kyrie, with every ankle-cracking dribble, with every improbable conversion at the rim, with every supple pass, with every mid-range and long-distance Jimmy, is boldy proclaiming, “Don’t talk the talk if you can’t walk the walk. phony point guards get outlined in chalk!


Throughout this year’s playoffs, Kyrie has been nothing short of an uncontrolled substance.

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His first victim was Pistons point guard Reggie Jackson, who had an excellent season – averaging 19 points and six assists per game while starting a career-high 79 games. But Kyrie scorched him for 31 points and six assists to set his playoff tone in Game 1.


In Game 2, in addition to his 22 points, he directed a superb overall offensive flow for the Cavs, whose superior ball movement and spacing translated into 20 made 3-pointers in 38 attempts. 

Kyrie, aka Uncle Drew, led all scorers with 26 points in Game 3. In Game 4, he converted some huge shots and played a menacing brand of perimeter defense while scoring 31 points in the 100-98 victory that gave his team a clean sweep.

20 of those points came in a filthy second half display, all within the confines of a very tough, competitive game.

In the second round against Atlanta, Kyrie took his Inspectah Deck stylistics to the next level, channeling the Above the Clouds flow, on some:

“I leave scientists mentally scarred, triple extra large, wild like rock stars who smash guitars. Poison bars from the Gods bust holes in your mirage, and catch a charge, shake em down like the riot squad. Invade your zone, ruins like ancient Rome. I span the universe and return to Earth to claim my throne!”



In Game 1 against the Hawks, he scored 21 points, dished out eight assists and had two blocked shots. He followed that up in Game 2 with 19 points and six dimes while directing an offensive attack that banged in an NBA record 25 3-pointers.


That’s the the most ever scored in any NBA regular season or playoff game, beating Atlanta like Jimmy Conway and Tommy DeVito did Billy Batts in Goodfellas during their 123-98 smackdown. 

Two nights later, he collected 24 points and three steals in Game 3’s 121-108 victory, and then proceeded to shine in the 100-99 Game 4 win with 21 points and eight assists.

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Last night, smelling perhaps a clash of the titans against Westbrook or Curry in the Finals where he will hopefully show the world his stylistics on the ultimate stage while free of injury, Irving treated Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry like Inspectah Deck treated every lyricist when he dropped the earth-shattering opening verse on Triumph

I bomb atomically, Socrates’ philosophies and hypothesis cant define how I be droppin these mockeries, lyrically perform armed robbery, flee with the lottery, possibly they spotted me. Battle-scarred shogun, explosion when my pen hits, tremendous, ultra-violet shine blind forensics!”


In the 115-85 Game 1 win, he scorched for 27 points, five assists, two steals and two blocked shots. The Cavaliers are rolling like the Temptations’ Poppa right now – undefeated, unblemished, and playing the best team ball of anyone left in the NBA’s version of the Final Four.

For all of the silly putty minds that screamed about Cleveland trying to emulate Golden State’s long-distance acumen, the Cavs continue to prove that, like the Five Deadly Venoms, they have expertise in a number of lethal combat styles. 

The 31-point Game 1 win against Toronto in the Eastern Conference Finals was the most lopsided in franchise postseason history. What made it so disconcerting for the teams that have to face them is how dissimilar it was to how they disposed of the Hawks.

In Kung Fu talk, the 77 3-pointers they splashed against Atlanta represented their Centipede style, with an emphasis on striking so fast and furiously, as to appear to have a plethora of arms and legs attacking all at once.


But Kyrie, LeBron, K-Love and crew pummeled the Raptors near the basket in Game 1 with more of a Snake technique, with their venomous fangs striking forcefully at the vulnerable body.


Early in the year, while Kyrie was trying to re-establish his place near the top of the point guard pecking order, LeBron tried to lay it out for all the doubters, setting the stage for what we’ve been seeing this postseason.

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“He’s special,” said James, as many phony basketball analysts had idiotically and imprudently forgot that Kyrie Irving’s steez, when he’s physically right, is a mad scientist’s stylistic and competitive conglomeration of Rod Strickland and Isiah Thomas. “He’s that special, man. He’s much better than an All-Star. I mean, there would never be a question if Kyrie Irving is the MVP, as long as he’s on the floor and he’s healthy.”

No point guard thus far in this year’s postseason, not even that dude who plays for the Warriors, has been better than Kyrie Irving. Much like Wu Tang’s unsung assassin Inspectah Deck, he’s not just here simply to fit in with the rest of the point guard clan.

Slept on and obtusely dismissed by the clowns in the hoops peanut gallery (you know who you are), Kyrie’s just warming up for his ultimate statement in the 2016 NBA Finals.

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(Photo Credit: Getty Images)



Basically, he’s telling any foe paying attention to “Protect Ya Neck“, bobbing and weaving through the playoff battles like a dancer, a boxer, a puncher and a knockout artist all in one prodigious package, letting everybody know that, to hear him tell it:

“I smoke on the mic like smoking Joe Frazier, the hell raiser, raising hell with the flavor. Terrorize the jam like troops in Pakistan, swinging through your town like your neighborhood Spiderman, so uhh, tic toc and keep tickin’, while I get you flipping off the skills that I’m kicking. The Lone Ranger, code red, danger! Deep in the dark with the art to rip charts apart. The vandal, too hot to handle, you battle? You’re saying Goodbye like Tevin Campbell! Roughneck, Inspector Deck’s on the set. The rebel, I make more noise than heavy metal!!!”


Ali

Alejandro “Ali” Danois is the Editor-in-Chief of The Shadow League. His features “Humble Beginnings”, and “Rocky Flop” were mentioned in the Best American Sports Writing Anthology as among the country’s most notable stories of 2014 and 2015 respectively.

Ali is the author of the critically acclaimed book, The Boys of Dunbar, A Story of Love, Hope and Basketball, and he served as a Producer on the ESPN Films 30-for-30 documentary “Baltimore Boys”.

Follow him on twitter @alidanois