Kyrie Irving was back at the Cleveland Cavaliers' practice facility on Monday, playing in his first five-on-five scrimmage since breaking his right hand more than two months ago.
Irving broke his hand when he slapped a padded wall at a high school gym during a practice with the Cavs' summer league team on July 14. He hit the wall in frustration after throwing an errant pass to rookie center Tyler Zeller and knew immediately he had broken his hand. After Irving had surgery in Cleveland on July 18, the Cavaliers took a conservative approach to his rehabilitation. He wore a removable soft cast and couldn't do any conditioning for three weeks after the surgery.
Irving improved his left-hand dribbling skills while he was sidelined, but he couldn't do much with his right hand.
"I couldn't tie my shoes," Irving said. "I couldn't put my belt on. There were a few things I couldn't do. I couldn't cook, open up juice. I had my best friend and my father with me all the time."
Irving was named Rookie of the Year last season after averaging 18.5 points and 5.4 assists. He joined Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson, Allen Iverson and LeBron James as the only No. 1 overall draft picks to average at least 18 points and five assists in their first season.
"That was just a stepping stone winning rookie of the year," Irving said. "Now the real work starts. You have to continue to get better every single year."
Irving played well for the Select Team against Team USA during the Olympic training camp in early July. He also made headlines by challenging Kobe Bryant to a one-on-one game, but said Monday he and Bryant currently don't have plans to play. Irving, however, would like to represent the United States in the 2014 world championships.
"I came on a mission to prove that I was one of the best guards there," Irving said of competing against Team USA this summer. "I came in wanting to show everybody why I was the No. 1 pick and the Rookie of the Year."
The NBA lockout delayed the start of last season until Christmas, so this will be Irving's first true NBA training camp. The Cavs can use the extra time. They have 12 players with three years or less of experience. In fact, the Cavaliers' starting lineup could potentially have two rookies in guard Dion Waiters and Zeller and two second-year players in Irving and forward Tristan Thompson.
"We are still trying to find out chemistry right now," Irving said. "But I definitely do feel like we have a lot of talent on this team."
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