September 3, 2014

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Cavaliers: Kyrie Irving vs. Kobe Bryant? One-on-one challenge leads to good-natured bet

Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert can only hope to attract these kinds of high rollers to the newly opened Horseshoe Casino Cleveland.

Of course, one of the people involved in a proposed $50,000 bet for a game of one-on-one, 20-year-old Cavs point guard Kyrie Irving, isn’t even old enough to gamble in an Ohio casino.

Irving, the precocious second-year pro who drew raves for his performances while playing for the Select Team in Las Vegas against the United States Olympic team, challenged five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant to the high-priced game of one-on-one earlier this week.

“It’s on the table, me and Kobe, one-on-one,” Irving says in a two-minute, 48-second video for DukeBluePlanet.com that is now circulating on YouTube.

After initially trying to convince Irving to play for $25,000, Bryant, a member of the U.S. Olympic team, agreed to the $50,000 bet, with the money going to the charity of the winner’s choice.

No time, date, location or rules for the game were set during the good-natured trash-talking session, but the two did shake hands to confirm the bet.

“I give him credit for his confidence,” Bryant says at one point in the video, which appears to be hosted and initiated by Irving. “It’s 50 grand for my charity. Greatly appreciated. Easy money. Easy money. Easy money. Easy.”

If the game is ever played, the loser won’t have any trouble paying up. Bryant will make $27.85 million in 2012-13, while Irving will earn $5.53 million.

Irving and Bryant, who will turn 34 on Aug. 23, smiled throughout their conversation, but at points personal pride and bravado were readily apparent.

“You think you’re playing Lil’ Bow Wow?” the 6-foot-3, 191-pound Irving says at one point.
“You’re about the same size,” responds the 6-6, 205-pound Bryant, who has scored 29,484 regular-season points and whose 27.9 career average ranks second in NBA history.

Earlier, the two exchanged more friendly banter when Bryant, the 2008 league MVP who once scored 81 points in a game against Toronto, tried to downplay the challenge from reigning Rookie of the Year Irving, who played just 11 games at Duke before being chosen No. 1 by the Cavs in the 2011 NBA Draft.

“You think you’re talking to a high school kid?” Irving asks.

“You just came out of high school, kid,” Bryant responds.

“I came out of college,” Irving retorts. “You came out of high school (to the NBA).”

“You played two games (in college),” Bryant answers.

At another point in the video, when Irving continues to chirp, Bryant says to him, “Are you crazy?”

That causes Irving to respond, “You have to guard. You’re not going to lock me up. It’s over.”

That leads Bryant to tell Irving, “You’re going to need a pick to get me off you, sonny.”
At the very end of the video, Bryant does pay Irving a compliment — sort of.

“Kyrie’s actually got some talent,” he says. “He can play a little bit — for a high school kid.”

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com.