CLEVELAND -- Kyrie Irving’s time in a Cleveland Cavaliers uniform came to an end on Tuesday night when he was traded to the Boston Celtics in a deal that brought point guard Isaiah Thomas, forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic and the unprotected first-round pick of the Brooklyn Nets in the 2018 NBA Draft to Cleveland.
Although Irving leaves behind a complicated legacy of on-the-court successes after overcoming several injuries, locker-room clashes with teammates and an Earth-is-flat theory that makes science and history teachers of all grade levels cringe, he had plenty of memorable moments in a Cavaliers uniform.
Here is a look at three of Irving’s best moments with the Cavaliers:
IRVING CARRIES CAVS PAST TRAIL BLAZERS
Someone needed to step up and replace the production and leadership of LeBron James (wrist injury) when the multi-time NBA All-Star was unable to play against the Portland Trail Blazers at Quicken Loans Arena on January 28, 2015.
And Irving was that somebody.
Irving scored a game-high 55 points on 17 of 36 shooting in leading the Cavaliers to a 99-94 win over the Trail Blazers, their eighth straight victory.
With the Cavaliers down, 92-89, with 1:16 to play in the fourth quarter, Irving stepped back behind the three-point line and buried a 25-foot jump shot that tied the game. A replay review upheld the call of a three-pointer.
Then, Irving broke a 94-94 tie with a 25-foot three-point shot from the right wing, and iced the game with a pair of free throws.
Irving's 11 three-point field goals broke the Cavaliers' single-game franchise record for triples, which was previously set by former guard C.J. Miles against the Philadelphia 76ers on January 7, 2014. Also, Irving became the first Cavaliers player to score 50 or more points in a game since James tallied 51 against the Sacramento Kings on March 13, 2009.
RECORD NIGHT IN SAN ANTONE
On paper, the Cavaliers were playing a Thursday night game against the San Antonio Spurs in what was one of the many contests between playoff-caliber teams on March 13, 2015. But for Cleveland fans everywhere, it was a good thing the game was played on the court.
Irving scored a franchise single-game record 57 points in leading the team to a 128-125 overtime win against the defending NBA champion Spurs. It was the most points ever scored by a Spurs opponent in San Antonio, a league-wide season best and the fourth-best individual performance by a player against a reigning champion in NBA history.
For so many years, mention of “The Shot” sent shivers down the spines of Cleveland fans after Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan clinched an Eastern Conference playoffs series with a buzzing-beating jumper over the outstretched arms of Cavaliers guard Craig Ehlo on May 7, 1989, but Irving reversed the meaning in 2016.
After missing all but one game in the 2015 NBA Finals because of a fractured kneecap, Irving more than made up for it just one year later.
With just 53 seconds to play and the score tied in Game 7, Irving hit the eventual game-winning three-pointer, a fall-away pull-up attempt from the right wing that was heavily defended by two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry, and his 25-foot triple led to a 93-89 win over the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, on June 19, 2016.
Irving scored 26 points and pulled down six rebounds to go along with a blocked shot and steal in 43 minutes of play in the series-clinching win. Irving buried 10 of his 23 attempts from the field, including two of his five three-pointers, and all four of his free throws in the winning effort.
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