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“No Distractions, No Problems”: Stephen A. Smith Explains Why Kyrie Irving is the Comeback Player of the Year

Advait Jajodia

"No Distractions, No Problems": Stephen A. Smith Explains Why Kyrie Irving is the Comeback Player of the Year

On the latest episode of ESPN’s First Take, the panel led by Shannon Sharpe and Stephen A. Smith discussed which of the two comeback wins on Sunday was better – the Dallas Mavericks’ 22-point comeback vs the Houston Rockets or the Los Angeles Clippers’ 26-point comeback vs the Cleveland Cavaliers. While exclaiming just how impressive Luka Doncic and co.’s victory was, Smith shed light on the 48 points that Kyrie Irving dropped. Further, the analyst dubs Irving as his pick for the Comeback Player of the Year.

As Shannon Sharpe dubbed the Paul George-led Clippers’ comeback more impressive, Stephen A. Smith reasoned why he was picking Jason Kidd’s boys’ victory. Halfway into his explanation, Smith diverted and began speaking about the incredible campaign that Kyrie Irving was having. After mentioning how Kai has been “distracted” over the past few years due to which he has been inactive.

Revealing the stats that the 2016 champ has lodged this season, Smith dubbed Irving as the Comeback Player of the Year (an honor given out in the NFL).

“Kyrie Irving is my Comeback Player of the Year. I’m talking about last year being almost for a multitude of reasons… This brother, right here, is averaging 25..8 points, 49.6% shooting from the field, 41% shooting from the 3-point range, 90.7% (free-throw). Damn near a 50/40/90. This dude has been on another level. He’s only played for 56 games because he’s been injured. No distractions, no problems. When this brother is on the court, he is something to behold,” Smith claimed.

Finally, explaining how the Texas side has significantly improved on the defensive end, behind the co-leadership of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving, the Mavericks could be the sleeper in the West.

“Yesterday, that show he (Irving) put on – he dropped 48 last night. I’m looking at Dallas and I’m like ‘Damn’… Dallas could be the sleeper in the West,” Smith concluded.

While the Dallas Mavericks has been a great offensive unit over the past few years, the team has always lacked on the defensive end. The mid-season acquisition of Daniel Gafford and PJ Washington has made the Mavericks a legitimate threat on the defensive end.

The Dallas side has a 48-30 record for the season. But since the trade deadline, they have had an incredible 19-7 record. It is tough to argue with Smith. The new-looking Mavericks are capable of orchestrating an upset and making a deep run in the postseason.

Luka Doncic showered Kyrie Irving with praise following the Mavericks’ win

The backcourt duo of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving recorded some incredible performances and carried the team to come back down from a 22-point deficit. Per, while Irving recorded 48 points and 7 rebounds, Doncic had a 37-point, 9-rebound, and 12-assist near triple-double.

"No Distractions, No Problems": Stephen A. Smith Explains Why Kyrie Irving is the Comeback Player of the Year
Credits: USA Today Sports

Speaking about Irving’s best performance of the season, Luka revealed to be in awe of his teammate’s performance. During the postgame interview, the Slovenian couldn’t help but share compliments for the shifty guard.

“[Kyrie] is an amazing player. There’s nothing much more than that. Great guy, amazing player, and just helps everybody on the floor,” said Doncic, per Basket News.

The two also shared a wholesome moment as they embraced each other with a hug after pulling off the win. Explaining why he decided to hug Doncic, the 6ft 2” ball-handler said:

“Luka was like, ‘I’m tired, man.’ That’s why I just hugged him at the end of the game. He left it all out there… For us as brothers to embrace each other, we know how hard we’ve worked,” said Irving.

“When the game is done, and the buzzer sounds, it’s good to give your brother a hug and let him know, ‘Hey man, you did a great job tonight.'”

The All-Star duo of Doncic and Irving have caught fire at the perfect time. With merely 4 games remaining in the regular season, with the momentum they now are in, the Mavericks will be a team that every title contender would fear going up against.

About the author

Advait Jajodia

Advait Jajodia


Advait Jajodia, a seasoned NBA journalist, has had a passion for the game for over a decade. His journey from admiring Kobe Bryant's precision to being in awe of Stephen Curry's long-range mastery instilled a profound understanding of basketball. With a background as a two-time National-level player, Advait uses his experience on the hardwood to offer insightful analysis. Over three years of dedicated sports journalism has equipped the 21-year-old with a unique perspective, reflected in his prolific portfolio of 3,700+ articles.

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