As they say, talent respects talent and Nets superstar Kyrie Irving had plenty of respect for Yankees slugger Aaron Judge’s 61 home run season.
Irving grew up a Yankees fan while growing up in West Orange, New Jersey, and was well aware of the historic feat that took place in Toronto Wednesday night. Judge tied Roger Maris’ American League and Yankee single-season home run record with his 61st of the year in New York’s win over the Toronto Blue Jays.
“The guy is special,” Irving said about Judge after the third day of Nets’ training camp. “It’s not too often that you get to see it up close and when you do you want to appreciate it. What he’s doing I just wish him the best. I don’t want to jinx him or anything. I want to send him great energy and make sure he continues it up and put on for the city.”
The Nets point guard met Judge while he was rehabbing with Giancarlo Stanton and the late José Fernández in Miami, but called the Yankees outfielder a “good team spirited guy.” Judge has tried to keep the focus on the team’s performance rather than his chase to tie Roger Maris’record.
Irving, who shares the spotlight with Judge in terms of star players in the city, could certainly appreciate what has gone into the slugger’s success this season.
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“Yeah, a lot of unseen hours that no one gets to really see often or sometimes appreciate,” Irving said. “As an artist or as an athlete, whatever you want to call me, I definitely can feel for guys when they’re hitting their highs and when they’re hitting their lows. It’s all part of the game. Just gotta be able to stay balanced, stay grounded be and you’ll be OK.”
After Wednesday’s record-tying blast, Judge could set the new single-season home run record in the American League and a new franchise record. The Yankees return for a three-game homestand starting on Friday before ending the regular season with four games in Texas.