Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
NEW YORK — A year ago, Kyrie Irving was the consensus No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft.
This time around, Irving was on hand at the NBA Draft Lottery only as an interested bystander. Decked out in a black suit and bow tie, the NBA Rookie of the Year was hoping his Cleveland Cavaliers would defy the odds and land a second straight No. 1 pick even though they entered in the No. 3 slot.
Instead, the Cavs will pick at No. 4, behind New Orleans, Charlotte and Washington.
“My stomach was twisting [Wednesday],” Irving, the former Elizabeth (N.J.) St. Patrick and Duke star, said after the Draft Lottery. “I wanted the No. 1 pick…I was a little nervous.”
With Kentucky star Anthony Davis a foregone conclusion to go No. 1 to the Hornets in the June 28 NBA Draft, there will be a drop-off after that.
DraftExpress.com projects that the Cavaliers will select Florida freshman guard Bradley Beal at No. 4 after the Bobcats take Kansas’ Thomas Robinson at and the Wizards select Kentucky’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who played at St. Pat’s alongside Irving.
If Kidd-Gilchrist is still on the board at No. 4, the two former Celtics stars could be teammates in Cleveland, which also features former St. Benedict’s Prep standouts Samardo Samuels and Tristan Thompson.
“I have no idea who we’re picking,” Irving said. “Do you have any idea who we’re picking? I have no idea. Maybe we should exchange numbers and you can tell me who.”
Whatever happens, Irving has a busy summer ahead.
He was invited to play with the USA Select team against Team USA and will be in Las Vegas from July 5-22. The Select Team also features Knicks guard Jeremy Lin and former Kentucky stars John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins.
After a summer of ball with those guys under the coaching of Syracuse coach Mike Hopkins, Irving plans to be a more vocal presence next year with the Cavs.
“I just work hard and I just try to lead by example every single day and that’s all I’m going to continue to do,” Irving said. “But I’m going to be a lot more vocal next year. I’ll have to assume that role and continue to work hard on it and see where it goes. I’m really excited for the summer and really excited for our draft pick.”
Irving is also excited about his Pepsi MAX “Uncle Drew” commercial, which has now drawn nearly 7 million viewers on YouTube.
“It was awesome,” he said. “I was in makeup for four hours, which was unbelievable. And then having the response that I’ve gotten it’s been amazing.”
Irving said he and the creative folks at Pepsi teamed up to make the ad — in which he plays crotchety old-time basketball player “Uncle Drew” — come to life.
“It was just an idea that we came up with the at the same time,” he said. “It was interesting and they made it happen.”
Asked if he’s working on a sequel to the ad, which was filmed in Bloomfield, N.J., Irving said, “Yes, Uncle Drew will be making a few more appearances. I’m not sure where but he will be in another video.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.