INDEPENDENCE: Kyrie Irving had four months to write his acceptance speech. He made it a good one.
Irving cracked jokes, thanked the Cavaliers organization and in a heartfelt moment, thanked his late mother and his father, Dred, after being presented with the Rookie of the Year award on Tuesday at Cleveland Clinic Courts.
Irving's comedy routine was needed since the race for the award was over by the All-Star break. The only question was whether or not Irving would become the fourth unanimous winner in league history, but he wasn't.
Irving received 117 of a possible 120 first-place votes. Denver's Kenneth Faried, San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard and New York's Iman Shumpert received the others, but Irving still won in a landslide. His 592 total points more than tripled Minnesota's Ricky Rubio, who finished second in voting despite missing half the season with a knee injury.
"Being the No. 1 pick, I'm glad I didn't get treated like one," Irving said. "When they drafted me, there were a lot of questions about my toe and whether I'd live up to the hype. It wasn't the most heralded No. 1 pick, but I had my own goals and my own team goals."
Irving joked how much his father, Dred, and Cavs coach Byron Scott are alike.
"They're both bald, they both wear nice suits and nice shoes," Irving joked, adding that both men hold him accountable and both demand excellence from him.
As for his mother, Elizabeth, who died when he was a child, Irving looked to the sky and touched his heart while talking about her.
"I know she's looking down on me," he said. "I wish she was here to accept this award with me, but I know she's here in my heart. ... I pray to her every single day."
Irving has a tight bond with his father, who made raising his children his top priority after Elizabeth's passing. Dred, himself a former professional basketball player, taught his son much of what he knows today.
Irving joked the award was going on the mantle in his father's house in New Jersey, complete with flashing lights to illuminate it throughout the house.
"I love you man," Irving said, looking at his father. "I'm living my dream. Without you, I don't know where I'd be."
As part of the award, Irving was able to donate a Kia Sorento CUV to the New Jersey Roadrunners, his former AAU team.