Kyrie Irving’s game-winning shot in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals will go down as one of the most iconic moments in basketball history.
The 25-foot jumper over the outstretched arm of Stephen Curry climaxed an improbable comeback against a history-making dominant opponent, and it delivered a trophy to the title-starved city of Cleveland for the first time since 1964:
It was the kind of shot that can change a player’s entire life and legacy—which, according to Irving, has already happened. At a recent media availability before a Team USA practice, Irving reflected on how things have changed since that momentous night.
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“It’s definitely gotten crazier, to say the least,” Irving said. “I don’t want to say I’m so used to flying under the radar, but a lot of things I was able to do, I can’t do anymore. And it sucks. But it comes with the territory. I know that they’re all just genuine fans. They’re fans of the game of basketball. They don’t necessarily have to be fans of me or the Cleveland Cavaliers, but they’re fans of basketball. The sport can connect people beyond all limitations in this world. It has a way of bringing people together, that’s just the beauty of the game that I enjoy.”
If you or I had hit that shot, we’d probably still be watching it on repeat, right? Not the case for Kyrie. “I literally just watch the celebration afterwards,” he said. “Because it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. We were playing against the world champs; they didn’t make it easy for us. And we didn’t make it easy for ourselves. This is what my dad prepared me for. Going through the ups and downs of life, dealing with things that happened, coming, going. It’s just part of life.”
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