INDEPENDENCE — Drederick Irving is Kyrie Irving’s father and Byron Scott is the 20-year-old’s coach, but sometimes the two men switch roles. Other times, they occupy both.
That’s why Irving went out of his way to thank both men Tuesday morning when he was named NBA Rookie of the Year at Cleveland Clinic Courts.
After playfully noting both men are bald and wear nice shoes and socks, the Cavaliers point guard pointed out his mentors also frequently get a case of “the rolls,” a furrowing of the brow that lets him know they are not happy.
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“When Coach Scott gets mad, he gets the rolls,” said Irving, who received 117 out of 120 first-place votes from media members across the country. “My dad has done the same thing since I was a kid. You know not to mess with him when rolls start popping on his face.
“When you look at them, there’s so much passion and so much drive that they have. You just want to go out there and fight for them. You want to give them your best. Coach Scott just expects the best. He wants to be the best. He’s going to do everything to get the best out of you.
“That’s all you want and that’s all my father wanted, so they share that similar trait. They let me be myself, but if I was doing something wrong, they were going to tell me about it. If I was doing something right, they were going to congratulate me.”
The 6-foot-3, 191-pound Irving, whose mother, Elizabeth, died when he was 4, did a lot right this season. He led all qualifying first-year players in scoring (18.5), field goal percentage (.469) and free throw percentage (.872) while ranking second in assists (5.4) and 3-point percentage (.399) to join LeBron James (2004) as the second Cavs player to be named Rookie of the Year.
He did it all under the watchful eyes of his father, who played professional basketball in Australia, where Irving was born, and Scott.
“I can’t even conjure the words to describe how I feel about Kyrie’s accomplishment,” Drederick Irving said. “I’m overwhelmingly proud of him.
“Kyrie’s always been like an old soul. To see him go up there (on the podium) and comport himself like that, I’m not surprised.”
Neither was Scott, though Irving’s initial response to a question about similar traits between his father and Cleveland head coach caught him off-guard for a moment.
“We had talked, and he had told me, ‘You guys are so much alike,’” Scott said. “When the question was asked, I almost started to laugh. I didn’t know the bald head part was going to come out, but I’ll get the last laugh in October (during training camp).”
Irving, who also thanked five childhood friends with whom he recently vacationed in the Bahamas — “They keep me humble; they keep me grounded,” he said — and his teammates, the city of Cleveland and just about everyone else in attendance, finished with 592 points in the balloting to easily outdistance runner-up Ricky Rubio of Minnesota (170).
Denver’s Kenneth Faried, San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard and New York’s Ivan Shumpert, who each got one first-place vote, finished third through fifth, respectively, and kept Irving from joining Blake Griffin (2011), David Robinson (1990) and Ralph Sampson (1984) as a unanimous selection. Chris Paul got all but one first-place vote in 2006, while James got 78 out of 118 when he was a rookie, with Carmelo Anthony getting the other 40.
Still, Irving, who got two second-place votes and one third, was a runaway winner of a 2012 Kia Sorento CUV, which he donated to the New Jersey Roadrunners AAU program he played in for many years.
“This is going to add more fuel to the fire,” Drederick Irving said. “He wants to be great.”
That’s one of the reasons Scott called a high pick-and-roll for Irving late in a tie game at Indiana in the third game of the season. Though Irving missed a left-handed layup at the buzzer and the Cavs went on to lose in overtime, he called it the turning point in his rookie season.
“I don’t know too many teams that would allow a 19-year-old kid — a 20-year-old kid now — to come in and do the things I did,” Irving said. “I was allowed to be myself.
“It was a stepping stone,” he added of that miss against Indiana. “It was a learning experience and I needed it.”
Irving rewarded his coach’s faith on Jan. 29, using a crossover dribble to set up a game-winning left-handed layup with 2.6 seconds left against Boston at TD Garden. He celebrated by pointing to his father, a Boston University graduate, seated in the first row.
“It was almost surreal for me,” Drederick Irving said.
Irving, who joined Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson, Allen Iverson and James as the only No. 1 picks to average at least 18.0 points and 5.0 assists as a rookie, will now take the Eddie Gottlieb Trophy to his father’s home and display it prominently.
“We’re going to put some flashy lights on it,” he said, “so it shines throughout the entire house.”
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.