NEW YORK CITY -- Kyrie Irving stars in a new Foot Locker commercial that spoofs the cinematic, slow-motion dunks seen on so many NBA films and advertisements.
ESPN Playbook caught up with Irving at Foot Locker’s “Week of Greatness” event in New York City, where the ad premiered, to talk about basketball, the commercial, his acting chops, his shoe collection, and more.
The commercial is pretty funny. What’d you think when you read the script, and did you improv any of it?
That took about 9 hours of shooting, so I had to do like three different angles and everything over again. I enjoyed doing it, but you really get to appreciate what it takes to do film work. I have a similar admiration for the Uncle Drew [Pepsi] commercial and the work I did for that. Having a professional director and makeup crew and everything come in, it was special for me.
You’ve done other commercials, and you guest-starred on a Disney show. Is acting something you have an interest in?
Absolutely. I took three acting classes while I was at Duke, and I feel like acting just gives me a chance to be myself on camera. That’s who I am. I’m free, open, and whatever I want to do, I feel like I can.
What kind of acting do you like best? Funny? Dramatic?
My acting skills would be just like my game: complete. Anything they need me to do, I’m going to do it.
You grew up a big Nets fan. Does it make you feel funny to see them in Brooklyn with different jerseys?
Yeah. It’s weird we’re going to play them, and we’re not going to New Jersey or staying in New Jersey. It’s a little weird. But Brooklyn now has a great team to cheer for and they have the pieces to win a championship now, so they’re definitely a team on the rise.
You’re here promoting shoes. How many pairs of shoes do you own? And what do you wear when you’re just going to a restaurant or grocery store?
I’m more of like a freaky shoe guy. I love colors, bright colors, and different shoes that nobody has. And I probably have over 200 pairs of shoes.
Cleveland is a city that catches a lot of criticism from people, like Joakim Noah. Say three nice things about Cleveland.
Great people. Great food. And great people. They support me, so great people.
You played with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in high school. Where does that team rank among the best of all time?
I was top 5 in the country, he was top 5 in the country, and we were supposed to win the national championship. Different things happened, with injuries and things like that. But that was the best team I ever played with. It was one of those teams you can really look back on, with the camaraderie that was built, and friendships that will last a lifetime. I still talk to all my high school teammates who played on that team, and me and MKG are still close, so I still get chills talking about it. We went through a lot together.
The league is so full of good, young point guards. If you could hit a game-winner over one of them, who would it be?
It’d be everybody, honestly. It’d be anybody and everybody. There are no slouches in the league anymore, in terms of the point guard position. Every team has a good point guard because that’s the cornerstone -- you need a good point guard. So now it’s just every team I play against, they have a good point guard, so there are no easy nights.
Coach K coached you at Duke, and he also coached you in the Team USA workouts this summer. How different was he in those two elements?
He was much different. Well, first, one thing I can say about Coach [Mike Krzyzewski], is the expectations stay the same, whether he’s coaching a middle school team, a college team, or Team USA. He expects the best out of everybody. And it’s easy to play for a coach like that, a guy who expects the best. The only difference was, of course, the caliber of players. You don’t have to tell LeBron to attack the basket harder or work on his game. That was the difference. He didn’t have to say as much.
What was it like seeing yourself as Uncle Drew for the first time?
It was weird seeing myself in all that makeup, just to see that finished product. Uncle Drew was definitely a success.
You were born in Australia and still have dual citizenship. What’s your opinion of Outback Steakhouse?
I do not go to Outback Steakhouse. I’ve been once. It offends me. It definitely offends me. I’ve been there once, and I didn’t like it.