I first saw Kyrie Irving play live in the 2010 Jordan Classic — an annual high school all-star game featuring the country's best basketball players. Although it was broadcast on ESPN, I forgot it was coming on, but some random channel surfing allowed me to catch the last few minutes.
The clip starting at the 27 second mark here was the first thing I saw:
This footage of Irving going coast-to-coast for a layup might seem like a nice, but relatively mundane highlight, but it was enough for me — a guy who's probably played and watched close to a hundred thousand hours of basketball — to literally jump off of my couch and scream "Wait…who the fuck was that?????" Ironically, that run-of-the-mill sequence stood out because I've watched and played so much basketball that I know how rare it is for someone that young to have that combination of handle, control, and dexterity.
So I began paying close attention to him, finishing that game and watching him again in the Hoop Summit a couple weeks later. I learned he also had a great jumpshot — a quality that's even rarer for a talented young point guard — was bigger and more athletic than he initially appeared to be, and tended to play his best when the stakes were the highest. It was at that point — before even seeing him play a game in college — that I began to tell people I thought he had the potential to be the best point guard (well, best not named "Magic Johnson") ever.
Four years later, I'm still confident about that. He's not the best point guard in the NBA right now, but there's nothing the now 22-year-old Irving has done so far in his career to make me go back on what I said. He still has an unparalleled offensive skillset, he still tends to play his best when the lights are on, and now he'll get a chance to mature while playing with other great players and a basketball coach who will actually coach basketball. Barring a serious injury, I have no doubt that 10 years from now, we'll be putting him in the same class as Isiah Thomas.
So…how exactly does any of this relate to the title of this piece? Well, Black-ish is only five episodes old. It is an imperfect show. As I wrote three weeks ago, Tracee Ellis Ross ("Rainbow") might have been a better comedic fulcrum for it than Anthony Anderson ("Andre"), and it's hard to forget that Larry Fishburne ("Granddad") is only a decade older than both of them. There have also been a few scenes/jokes than were a bit too forced, most notably the shirtless sex talks with Dre and little Dre in episode two.
But each week has been better than the last. Considerably better. And Wednesday's episode tackled a considerably heavy and timely topic (spanking) with the type of humor, heart, and race-specific nuance I haven't seen on TV in a long time — and I watch a lot of TV.
Considering the obvious level of care and context that goes into the writing and creation of this show, and considering the comedic and acting chops of those involved, I've seen enough to say that Black-ish could end up being the best Black sitcom ever. Better than Cosby, better than A Different World, better than any other show you'd name.
Obviously, a lot would have to fall into place for that to happen. The people connected with the show need to stay as hungry and inspired as they appear to be now. It has to continue to find it's rhythm, and we need to continue to watch (!!!). But its ceiling is extremely high, so high that it's almost non-existent, and its format and tone allows it to vacillate between absurd and astute without losing any of its humor, the perfect sweet spot for a transcendent comedy.
I realize both the Black-ish claim and the Kyrie claim might seem, well, ridiculous. And, you might even be wondering what type of weed I've been smoking to even think about saying all of this.
If you do feel this way, just do me one favor: Ask me again in 10 years.