Originally posted on Waiting For Next Year  |  Last updated 2/16/12

It’s like riding a bike.  You know, if feverishly peddling a Sonic 6 was akin to rolling left off of a ball screen only to dribble-drive full speed in to the elevated body of a 7-foot-2-inch, 280-pound center. As Kyrie Irving lunged toward the rim, his 190-pound frame bounced off of Roy Hibbert’s body as if the All-Star big man were made of cinder block; Irving responded with a left-handed lay-in over the former Hoya’s ready-and-waiting hands.

It was only two points and the play occurred with a mere four minutes having run off of the game clock, but the sequence rang loud. The first-overall pick, on the cusp of what many had considered to be an All-Star campaign of his own, coming back from the first injury sustained in his diaper and similac-young NBA career — a concussion, the injury du jour of all contemporary sports-related medical studies and a diagnosis which ultimately sealed the public relations fate of the 2011 Cleveland Browns. Missing three games following severe headache and sensitivity, Irving returned to the hardwood to not only take part in the team’s 11-point win over the Indiana Pacers, but he played his typically integral role, scoring and facilitating and spinning off of countless would-be defenders.

“We’ve always known from day one that he has no fear, so it wasn’t surprising to me that his first shot was going to be an aggressive, attack-mode type shot,” said Byron Scott in his postgame state of the Wine and Gold address. “I wasn’t surprised at all. It was just good to see him back out there on the floor playing the way that I know he’s capable of playing.”

The “way” described by Scott netted Irving 22 points (on a 71.2 eFG%), a game-high five assists, and a blocked shot for good measure. His teammates were involved early and reserve guard Ramon Sessions was able to pick up right where he left off in Irving’s absence, adding 13 of the utmost efficient points of the night — Sess’ shot 5-for-5 from the floor, made both three-point attempts, as well as his sole free throw. And while one can argue correlation and causation, it was in Irving’s return to NBA action that led to center Semih Erden appearing to be an ample replacement for the injured Anderson Varejao as the Turkish big man finished with a career-high 18 points on 7-of-8 shooting; five of his six shots at the rim came via assist.

In fact, ball movement was so prevalent as the Cavaliers amassed 24 assists on their 36 field goals, seven of their 10 three-pointers were aided by a pass. Other players on the Cavaliers lauded collective hustle and confidence. Some were aggressive, others were fantastic.

When Irving wasn’t bouncing off of All-Star centers, spinning off of help-side defenders or making an otherwise speedy Darren Collison backpedal faster than a post-cheap shot Carmelo Anthony, he was banking in step-back mid-range jump shots or opting to be on the receiving end of an assist behind the arc. The Cavaliers’ pace of play rests comfortably in the hands of the 19-year-old who is slowly realizing exactly what super powers he possesses when it comes to dictating the flow of an NBA contest. Think Peter Parker’s transition from destroying lamps and leaping across rooftops to fighting crime and saving lives. Just with considerable less computer-generated imagery.

Considering that Irving’s concussion didn’t exactly stem from him driving to the hoop rather than being the result of freak knee placement on behalf of Miami’s Dwyane Wade, the rookie will be the first to say that he can’t let accidents limit his style of play.

It’s inherently refreshing to see a rookie willing to brush prior injury aside and not alter his approach out of fear. They always say that the most important hit after a big injury is the first one, helping cast away any residual concern. Even Erden was admittedly cautious when he came back from his thumb injury earlier this season, stating that he likely could have been more aggressive on both ends of the floor. But Irving, a kid beyond his years, essentially took a three-game break under protest, awaiting medical clearance but using the time to become more rejuvenated where fresh legs could ultimately make the difference during a condensed season.

“I’m 100 percent,” said Irving of his first game back. ”It doesn’t mean that because I had a prior concussion that my game is going to change in any way. I had the same aggressiveness.”

(Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)

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