Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving was named the National Basketball Association’s Rookie of the Year after leading all first-year players in scoring.
Irving received 117 of the 120 first-place votes from media members who regularly cover the sport, the NBA said today in an e-mailed release. He was the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft out of Duke University.
Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried, San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard and New York Knicks guard Iman Shumpert each received one first-place vote. Irving received 592 points in the balloting, with Ricky Rubio of the Minnesota Timberwolves second at 170 and Faried third at 129.
“It was a great season, I had such an amazing time,” Irving said today in a press conference at the team’s practice facility. “That’s why it’s so special here, because I came in as a 19-year-old kid, and I got to just be myself all the time.”
Irving led all rookies with 18.5 points per game, and was second among first-year players in assist average at 5.4. He also averaged 3.7 rebounds for the Cavaliers, who finished 21-45, 14 games behind the Philadelphia 76ers for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
The 20-year-old guard is the first Cavaliers player to win the award since current Miami Heat forward LeBron James was named Rookie of the Year for the 2003-04 season. James won his third league Most Valuable Player award on May 12.
Irving thanked the Cavaliers’ fans, management, friends and family for their support in his first season. He saved his final thank you for his father, Drederick, who played professionally in Australia and raised Kyrie alone after his mother died when he was young.
“I’m living my dream, and without you, I don’t know where I’d be,” he said to his father. “We’re going to bring this back home, we’re going to put it right on the mantle, and put some flashing lights on it so it shines throughout the whole house.”
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