Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving has won the Rookie of the Year award. News of his honor broke on Monday, and on Tuesday he was handed the hardware in a press conference so early in the day that admitted coffee non-user and Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert was seen drinking a caffeinated product from a company that is owned by the man who sold the Seattle SuperSonics out of Seattle. That's not a shot at Gilbert, who opened a casino on Monday night and was presumably out late, but a gratuitous shot at Howard Schultz.
In other news, Twitter is full of gratuitous shots at the Rookie of the Year voting. Not because Irving took the award — he was far and away the best rookie in basketball, and he should have earned unanimous first-place voting — but because lesser lights like Josh Selby (who played for Memphis, if you somehow were not aware) received a third-place vote, and New York's Iman Shumpert received a first-place vote. Ridiculous picks, to anyone who was paying attention.
And because everything happens in real time in social media, whenever the award voting (which used to disappear without a trace in your local paper's transaction page) is released, NBA fans and writers take to Twitter to complain about some of the stranger votes, while calling for writers to publicly disclose their personal picks. And then other NBA fans and writers respond by taking light shots at those that are bordering on getting haughty at votes gone wrong. And nobody leaves happy, even though everyone is correct in their take. Except for whoever the hell gave Josh Selby a third-place vote.
The vote for transparency comes down to two frustrations. NBA media members want to know who is out there, making them look bad. It's one thing for Kawhi Leonard to take in a lone first-place vote for Rookie of the Year (you could make the argument, though this is a reach as long as Kawhi's, that he might boast the best all-around upside of any member of his rookie class; though I would disagree), or Kenneth Faried (technically, his per-minute numbers and some of his efficiency ratings were better than Irving's) to do the same, but Iman Shumpert?
NBA media types immediately assume that this is a local pick gone wrong, and especially if they're working out of that particular market, they don't care for the assumption work done by fans. And I can't blame them for as much.
NBA fans don't like the idea that someone who is trusted with a vote — no matter how silly a privilege voting for silly NBA awards is — is taking their job less seriously than NBA fans typically take their NBA. And the idea that Josh Selby, who made fewer shots (25) than his Memphis Grizzlies won games (41) this year, could grab a third-place vote? That Twitter darling and rightful two-time Rookie of the Month-winning Isaiah Thomas would finish behind Klay Thompson or Shumpert (or even Rubio, who was fantastic in his rookie season, but missed as many games as Josh Selby made shots)? It frustrates them.
Fans want to know who isn't working hard. Who isn't paying attention, and who isn't taking things seriously. Media members want to know the same.
And those who take pot shots at the types that want these things to be transparent? They're spot on as well. This stuff is incredibly silly. Voting for NBA awards is somehow just as silly as giving a Most Improved Player award vote to Andrew Bogut, who played 12 games this season.
So let's return to someone who isn't silly in the slightest. Kyrie Irving is a true wunderkind, rolling right into a fantastic season with the Cavaliers even though he was working without a proper training camp and attempting to take to the NBA after playing just 11 contests at Duke. To work as an NBA point guard in 2012 and shoot both 47 percent from the floor and 40 percent from behind the arc is incredibly impressive. To do as much when just 303 on court minutes separate you from your time spent on your high school basketball team? This cat is something else.
In just 30 minutes a night Irving pumped in 18.5 points per game for a Cavs team that needed every point it could get, with 5.4 assists a contest. The latter mark might not impress you as much, but the Cavaliers don't have many offensive options in place that tend to rack up quick scores off of quick dishes, and Irving's assist ratio (the percentage of possessions he uses up that turn into assists) of 36 percent was 11th in the NBA. Again, all at age 19 — for most of the year. And after just 11 NCAA games. Even though the Cavaliers are smartly going slowly with their rebuilding, Irving will have this team back in the playoff bracket way ahead of schedule.
(And someone gave him a third-place vote.)