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Kyrie v Rose: The Rivalry That Never Was

A rivalry that promised so much half a decade ago has produced very little for NBA Fans.

If someone told you on the night that Kyrie Irving was drafted first overall by the Cavaliers in 2011 that he would be a better point guard than Derrick Rose in five years time, you would have been laughed out of the room. 

In theory, this is a rivalry that should have been one of the best in the Eastern Conference. 

Derrick Rose had just been named the youngest MVP in NBA history, having led his Chicago Bulls to a league-best 62-win season. 

Meanwhile, Irving was seen as Cleveland's next great hope as fans hoped he would fill the void left by LeBron James. 

However, while Irving gradually ascended to becoming one of the league's brightest young stars, a fact that the former Duke guard underlined by hitting the game-winning shot to bring Cleveland its first title, Rose's time as a star came to a crashing halt following a series of crippling injuries.

The two-star point guards resumed their spotty rivalry in the opening game of the season and you could be forgiven for thinking Irving was the former MVP.

Like many of his Cavalier teammates, Irving started out cold, making just two of his first 10 shots before catching fire in the second half. 

Thanks to a 19-point third quarter performance, Irving finished with 29 points on 12-for-22 shooting to go along with four assists and two steals in the Cavaliers' 117-88 win. 

The 24 year old point guard being a legitimate MVP candidate this season has been an idea that his team-mates J.R. Smith and the reigning Finals MVP LeBron James have championed and Irving showed his credentials against the Knicks. 

Rose's night couldn't be any more different.

While the former Bull had no trouble getting to the basket early on in the game, he had a rather forgettable night like most of his team mates as he finished with 17 points on 7-for-17 shooting and four turnovers on his New York Knicks debut. 

Like Irving, Rose was the young point guard sensation just a few years ago before his litany of knee injuries. 

Rose's production, as expected, has been nowhere near his MVP level following his injury troubles and you have to imagine it must be hard for the 27-year-old to watch young players like Irving on nights like these without wondering what might have been. 

The three-time All-Star is younger than two-time MVP Stephen Curry and just over a month older than Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook. Those two guys are widely considered to be top-five players. It what is supposed to be the prime of his career, Rose would be lucky to crack the top 30. 

While 2015-16 wasn't a statistically great year for Rose, his 66 games played represented his highest total since his MVP season in 2010-11 and the Knicks will hope that he can build on having a full season's play behind him. 

Irving spoke to reporters about his matchup with Rose prior to opening night.

"It's definitely a different dynamic. What's been interesting is over the last kinda five years that I've been in the league, me and him haven't necessarily matched up as much as everyone would've liked to see. Whether I've been injured or he's been injured," Irving told reporters on Friday. 

"[Rose] is in a great position in New York, a chance for him to be successful and lead that team." 

But tonight was all about Irving and the Cavaliers and Irving who missed the Cavs' opening night matchup with Rose and the Bulls last season due to his own recovery from surgery. 

Irving and his Cavalier team mates seem to be in a totally different and more positive mental space following their historic triumph last June. 

Their improved confidence should lead to more spectacular nights similar to this one. 

For Irving and Rose, tonight just confirmed the different trajectory in which their careers are heading.


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