You know those Pepsi commercials that Kyrie Irving stars in? You know, the ones with Uncle Drew? Well, here’s a fun little fact: Irving has written, directed and produced every installment of the Uncle Drew series.
“I think I kind of just fell into it,” Irving said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “I was always kind of nervous to get in front of the camera, and this was kind of my way of letting myself loose and giving myself a chance to be a creative behind such a project. Partnering with Pepsi (was) probably the best thing to do. Going from 2012 with Chapter 1 all the way to now with Chapter 4, it’s so amazing to think (of) the steps we’ve taken to make this a storyline and have Uncle Drew come to life. It’s been an amazing journey.”
It’s also been an amazing journey for Irving in Cleveland. The No. 1 overall pick in 2011, Irving did a lot of losing in his first couple of seasons but last year helped the Cavs advance to the NBA Finals. Then he fractured his left knee in Game 1 against Golden State and has been sidelined ever since.
Irving, however, said his knee is getting better.
“It’s good, man,” Irving said. “I’m coming along really well. Just looking forward to the date that I have in mind and shoot for that one.”
Irving, who averaged 21.7 points, 5.2 assists and 3.2 rebounds last season, is going to be cautious about returning to action. Cautious to an extent, anyway.
“In my mind, I’m saying (I’ll be cautious),” Irving said, “but as a competitor, I’m going to listen to not only the doctors, but more importantly, I’m going to listen to my body. There’s a way to be extra cautious, but eventually I’m going to have to get out there in play. Whether that be in December or whether that be in January, I’m eventually going to have to test out my knee against professional competition. There’s no way to go out there and feel the trust unless you’re going out and playing. you can have weeks and weeks and weeks of preparation, but there’s nothing like simulating a game. So I’m just doing everything possible, staying in the weight room, staying on the court, working out every single day and doing whatever I can to be out there with my teammates.”
Still, Doug Gottlieb feels going from practice to an NBA game is a major bump in intensity. After all, this isn’t like MLB where a pitcher can make a rehab start in the minors. This is the NBA. This is going from fractured kneecap to trying to break down Chris Paul and Steph Curry.
That’s a pretty big leap, no?
“It’s a big leap if you see it as that,” Irving said. “I don’t really see it as a big leap. I just see it as getting back on the court and being part of competition. Now, the realization is that there’s going to be some rust that I need to knock off. That’s reality. there’s no way anybody can come back and average 25 points and be the exact same player or better than they were last year. It takes time to build that back up. That’s what people have the summer for. Coming back from an injury during the season, this is the first time I’ve ben through it. The only thing I’m looking forward to is being back out there with my teammates, being out there with my coaches and being out there and competing at the highest level. So I see it as a challenge that I want to overcome, and the best way to do that is by going out and testing it. I can’t be over-cautious and sit on the sideline if I’m 100 percent healthy. That just wouldn’t make sense. So for me, it’s just about seeing that challenge and attacking it.”
The Cavs (7-1), who are atop the Eastern Conference, play their next three games on the road. They face the Knicks (4-5) at Madison Square Garden on Friday before facing Milwaukee (4-5) on Saturday and Detroit (5-3) on Tuesday.
Cleveland has won seven straight games since its season-opening loss to Chicago.