There were many who felt that Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving deserved some consideration for the 2016 NBA Finals Bill Russell MVP Award. Irving made the biggest shot of the series, and his career, when he connected on his game-winning 25-footer with 53 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter of Game 7.
The shot, and LeBron James’ otherworldly block of Andre Iguodala’s layup attempt, propelled the Cavs to the 93-89 win that gave Cleveland its first pro championship since the Drifters were Under the Boardwalk back in 1964.
With his 26 points in the decisive game, Irving proved worthy of MVP consideration for the series. He was the best point guard on the floor, not back-to-back reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry, while averaging 27.1 points, 3.9 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 2.1 steals. He shot 46.8% from the field and 40.5% on three-pointers.
Kyrie scored at least 30 points in three games, including the amazing 41-point performance in Game 5 where he connected on 17 of his 24 shots. That win changed the entire dynamic of the series.
And when most thought he could never follow that up with something comparable, he came out like his alter-ego Uncle Drew in the first half of Game 6 while dropping 20 before halftime.
And in Game 7, with everything on the line and his burgeoning legacy in the balance, he scored 17 points in the second half, including 12 during a torrid stretch in the third quarter.
But it’s pretty tough to argue that LeBron was not the MVP of the Finals. Over the seven-game series, he averaged 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and 8.9 assists in a performance that even had Kevin Durant’s moms yelling out, “You the real MVP, LeBron!!!”
James became only the third player to record a triple-double in Game 7 of the Finals, joining Jerry West in 1969 and James Worthy in 1988.
“Best player on the planet,” Irving said after the game. “He had a freakin’ triple-double in Game 7 of an NBA Finals game. There will still be naysayers, but I know it doesn’t matter to him. It doesn’t matter to me. All that matters is we’re champions, and our whole team is etched in history.”
But there is one aspect of the Finals that Kyrie did earn MVP for, and the was the Shoe Game.
That honor was also decided between the two best players on the court, him and LeBron.
But Kyrie’s flavors were too much for even King James to overcome.
Here’s the best of what they both rocked:
Game 1: Nike LeBron 13 Elite, Wine and Gold
Game 4: Nike Kyrie 2, Wine and Gold
Game 5: Nike LeBron Soldier 10, Black and Gold
Game 2: Nike Kyrie 2, Black and Gold
Game 6: Nike LeBron Soldier 10, White and Gold
Game 5: Nike Kyrie 2, Exclusive Colorway
In his 41-point performance for the ages in Game 5, Irving rocked the Kyrie 2 in an exclusive colorway that began popping up during the playoffs. As a player exclusive joint made specifically for him, these Miami Vice-type colorway joints are off the chain.