CLEVELAND – Kyrie Irving’s eyes are pointed forward, and once he’s back on the floor the Cavaliers star guard intends to keep looking ahead.
“I’m a Ferrari without a rearview mirror,” he said.
Irving, who hasn’t played since breaking his left kneecap in the NBA Finals, is finally fully cleared to practice and said Thursday that he’s moving toward his return. But Irving would not commit to exactly when he’ll make his season debut.
“You’re not getting anything out of me,” he said, smiling. “No percentages, no target dates, nothing. I’m feeling good. Personally, I’m in a great place just being able to be out here and practice with the guys, being able to go up and down and continuously, as well.”
He said when he first went up and down the court, he was more controlled.
“Today, there was a lot more up and down, being able to test my wind, being able to test my knee, going from offense to defense and translating and being able to get out in the fast break and being able to try my moves that I’ve been practicing, kind of knock off most of the rust I’ve had,” he said.
Irving fractured the kneecap in Game 2 of the NBA Finals last season while trying to cut to the basket. Without him, the Cavs were missing one of their top offensive players and couldn’t stay with the Warriors. Golden State won the title in six games.
Irving has been patient during his comeback. He’s listened to his body and his doctors so as not to have any setbacks. Irving has had injuries, but none as serious as this one. He’s being cautious but promised that once he’s given the OK to play, nothing will hold him back.
“If I’m putting myself in a position to be out there and I’m 100 percent, then I’m going to go out there and I’m not going to take any extra days off or take a week off just because erring on the side of being cautious,” said Irving, who was slowed by tendinitis earlier in the postseason. “Anything can happen at any given moment, and I still have no regrets from what I did last year, going out there, and even playing injured.”
Irving says he won’t change his mindset of leaving it on the line when he plays.
“I still have that competitive fire inside and when I’m cleared to play, I’m going out and playing,” he said. “There’s no looking back after that.”
The Cavaliers, who will play at New Orleans on Friday and Miami on Saturday, have opened 13-5 despite not having Irving, starting guard Iman Shumpert and with center Timofey Mozgov still struggling after offseason knee surgery. Shumpert is now practicing after being sidelined with a broken wrist and could be back soon.
For Irving, the climb back from the injury has been grueling.
“It’s a mountain when you’re injured,” he said. “Different base camps like they have on Mount Everest and you go to different base camps and you try to just to get them. Sometimes you’re going to fall down the mountain and sometimes you’re going to get even further on the day. This past week has been the biggest steps I’ve taken mentally and physically to being out there and being ready to be out there with my guys.”
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