Kyrie Irving left the masses entranced when he dropped 42 points during the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Game 4 victory over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night. Without him detonating, they don’t erase a 16-point lead. They aren’t able to weather LeBron James’ early foul trouble.
They don’t remain within striking distance unless he’s firing on all cylinders and finishing around the basket.
It was a truly amazing performance—a career trademark to many. But not to LeBron. He’s bored with this stuff—not because he doesn’t believe in Irving, but because he is used to this, he expects this, from his partner in crime by now.
From USA Today‘s Jeff Zillgitt:
“Same thing I’ve been saying since I got here – I’ve been saying he’s a special kid. He’s a special talent,” said James, who ended up with 34 points. “As the stakes get higher and higher, his game gets higher and higher. But it was nothing surprising for me. But he rose to the occasion, and he put the team on his back, and we definitely needed that effort from him.”
This is like the most subdued compliment ever, and yet it’s simultaneously perfect. After all, wasn’t this the goal for LeBron upon returning to Cleveland?
Sure, he wanted to come home. But Irving, at 25, is much younger than his running mates were at any point in Miami. As LeBron journeys closer to his twilights, these are the nights that he wants and the Cavaliers need—the ones that prove they can be, at times, more than him, so he doesn’t need to be this exact version of himself for the rest of his career.