It was the summer of 2013, and Handy had just joined Mike Brown's coaching staff in Cleveland. His first assignment—his most important assignment—was to work with Irving, the 2011 No. 1 overall pick, who was heading into his third NBA season.
Handy tried calling the number Irving had given him. He tried texting. He tried again. Nothing. For two weeks. Frustrated, he finally took a flight to Miami, where Irving was working out, to see him in person. Which, as it happens, was what Irving wanted.
"He was challenging me in a sense, to see how I was gonna handle it," says Handy, who grew close to Irving in their four years together. "It wasn't just a smooth start. This kid, he was very evasive, and he was doing it on purpose. We laugh and joke about it now, because we're well beyond it."
Irving's explanation was simple, Handy recalls: "I didn't know you. I had to give you another number just to keep you at bay, just to see what you were gonna do."