With so many young players gracing the Cavaliers roster this upcoming season, it makes sense that some would be considered kids to new head coach Mike Brown. The Cavs are so young, even third year point guard, 21-year-old All-Star Kyrie Irving is considered a veteran by some. But he has no idea why Brown has recently taken to calling him the “The Pied Piper” of Cleveland basketball.
Brown is alluding to all the youngsters following Irving around this summer to work out in preparation for the upcoming season in Cleveland. Irving will team with Jarrett Jack, possibly Andrew Bynum, and a young cast of Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson and No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett.
The only problem with the moniker Brown bestowed on his young star this summer is Irving doesn’t really know what it means. Irving asked reporters in Cleveland during the 28th annual Cavaliers Young Fund Golf Classic, “Can you guys tell me what that means? I know it’s a fairy tale, but I’ve never read it.”
Though the comparison with the fictional Pied Piper of Hamelin isn’t perfect — Irving isn’t stealing kids after the townspeople failed to pay him for ridding the town of rats — Irving is embracing his mentorship role. “He made it, so I guess I’m The Pied Piper of the team,” he added jokingly to reporters.
“I’ve been forcing everybody to meet me in different places and work out,” Irving acknowledged. “That was fun.”
The Cavaliers are led by a backcourt that’s barely able to drink legally. Irving just turned 21 in March, and Waiters turned 21 in December last year after starring at Syracuse for two seasons before turning pro last summer. The Canadian contingent at forward for the Cavs is equally as young, with Tristan Thompson only turning 22 in March this year, and No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett not reaching legal drinking age until March next year. All told, that’s a lot of youth getting significant minutes for a team that has been vocal about their playoff aspirations.
The camaraderie that can come from working out together, and just developing a rapport with all the new faces, can be nothing but positive for the new team. A team that Irving is excited to lead in the new season:
“We’re all getting accustomed to one another and looking forward to starting training camp. We have a great leader in Mike Brown and our coaching staff. They’ve done a hell of a job this summer just getting all of us together, including myself, and just working out and getting better.
“I’m feeling good. I’ve been ready for training camp for a while now. I’m looking forward to getting started. We have the pieces to do something special this season, and I know we can.”
For his part, Brown uses the Pied Piper nickname as a sign of respect, and the new head coach had nothing by praise for his young leader during the charity event in Cleveland.
“I’m very impressed. We’ve had an opportunity to interact quite a bit this summer. I don’t want to smother him, so I give him his space. He’s going to hear enough from me come Oct. 1. But he’s been great in terms of some of the things we’ve talked about.
“A. He’s a natural leader. B. He’s expected to lead because of who he is. When you are a leader, you have to get other guys involved. That was one of the things that we talked about in one of our initial meetings. He’s done that from Day One. He wants it to happen. He wants to be great. He wants the organization to be great.”
Irving’s leadership for the young Cavs might be the difference between another lottery trip next summer, and their first playoff appearance since LeBron left town in 2010. Irving told reporters that even after an offseason that saw him do a lot of traveling, he’s still got something left on his bucket list: “Playoffs,” he answered without hesitating. “That’s it. That’s the main goal and I’m looking forward to it.”
Hopefully, all the young players Irving kidnapped to work out with during his busy summer won’t go missing next season like the children of Hamelin folklore.
Will Kyrie Irving lead the Cavs to the playoffs this year?
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