NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - Former Duke freshman guard Kyrie Irving was the first player chosen in the NBA draft Thursday night, becoming the third Blue Devil to hear his name called before any other.
When the Cleveland Cavaliers made him the first overall choice he joined Art Heyman, who was taken by the New York Knicks in 1963, and Elton Brand, the top choice of the Chicago Bulls in 1999, as Duke players tabbed No. 1.
This was the fourth time Cleveland had the first pick. In 1971, the Cavaliers selected Austin Carr of Notre Dame No. 1 overall and they followed that in 1986 by taking North Carolina’s Brad Daugherty and in 2003 by taking local high school sensation LeBron James.
“No. 1 picks, they have a lot of expectations on them and I plan on exceeding them,” Irving said. “Being the No. 1 pick is an honor ad I’m really looking forward to getting on the court and showing why I was picked No. 1.”
BACK IN JERSEY: This is the second time the NBA draft was held in New Jersey.
In 1996, just months after hosting the Final Four, the Meadowlands Arena in East Rutherford, was the site of the draft. The Philadelphia 76ers got things started that night be selecting Allen Iverson of Georgetown No. 1.
The draft took on an even more local angle with pick No. 22.
Commissioner David Stern walked to the podium and said “with the 22nd pick the Denver Nuggets select Newark’s own Kenneth Faried of Morehead State.”
Sections of the sellout crowd of 8,417 erupted into cheers, none louder than a group of people who used to be very close to Faried. Holding signs that read “Technology High School Teachers (heart) Kenneth Faried,” a group of his former teachers jumped and started snapping pictures.
The all-time leading rebounder in NCAA history, the 6-foot-9 Faried had a big smile on his face during a TV interview when he thanked “everybody for coming out.”
INTERNATIONAL INTRIGUE: Enes Kanter of Turkey, who enrolled at Kentucky but was never eligible to compete in NCAA competition, was the third overall pick by the Utah Jazz.
The 6-foot-11 Kanter was the highest picked international player since Andrea Bargnani of Italy was the overall No. 1 pick by Toronto in 2006.