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Cavs' Irving named NBA's top rookie; Rubio second in voting

CBSSports.com wire reports
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Irving accepts his Rookie of the Year trophy with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert. (AP)  
Irving accepts his Rookie of the Year trophy with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert. (AP)  

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving is the NBA's rookie of the year, winning the award with the same ease as he dribbled past defenders this season.

Irving received 117 of 120 possible first-place votes from 120 U.S. media. Irving finished with 592 points, way ahead of Minnesota's Ricky Rubio (170) and Denver's Kenneth Faried (129), who was third.

The 20-year-old Irivng is the second Cleveland player to win the award, joining LeBron James in 2004.

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Irving's award was expected. The No. 1 overall pick in last year's draft, he was clearly the league's top first-year player, leading all rookies - and the Cavaliers - in scoring with 18.5 points per game. He also led all rookies in field-goal percentage (46.8), was second in assists (5.4) and became one of just six rookies in league history to average at least 18 points and five assists.

However, it was the other elements of his game -- a nasty crossover dribble, a fearless desire to get to the basket, and a clutch, cold-blooded instinct in the fourth quarter that separated him from the others.

Irving, who played only 11 games at Duke University before turning pro, regularly took over games for the Cavaliers. He kept them competitive and in the playoff race until mid-March when the team's front office decided to build for the future by trading his backup, guard Ramon Sessions, to the Los Angeles Lakers for a first-round draft pick.

Once Minnesota's Rubio went down with a season-ending knee injury, Irving became the runaway favorite to win rookie of the year honors.

And beyond his impressive statistics, Irving brought hope to the Cavaliers and their fans, who have spent the past two seasons trying to move past James leaving as a free agent before he could bring them their first league title.

Irving arrived with none of the superstar trappings. There was no entourage or multimillion dollar shoe contract, no cameras chronicling his every move. He was a team player in the truest sense, often tossing the praise on others and minimizing his role in victories.

Irving chose to blend in. He stepped away from the spotlight.

At the Rising Stars game during All-Star weekend in Orlando, Irving made all eight 3-pointers to win MVP honors. Posing for a photograph afterward, Irving lowered the crystal he was presented and told the photographer, "Make sure you get the Cleveland" on the front of his jersey.

"That wasn't a publicity stunt at all," Irving said when the season ended. "I just wanted to make sure they got the Cleveland uniform in it. We're not as publicized as everybody else."

Irving's modesty rubbed off on everyone around him.

"He is just a fantastic kid," Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert said. "He's got a great heart. He is genuine. He loves basketball. He loves people. People love being around him. He's humble. He's a great guy."

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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