Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving has had a successful NBA career.
At the age of 28, Irving has already been crowned an NBA Champion and named a six-time NBA All-Star, the NBA’s 2012 Rookie of the Year, NBA All Star game MVP and a USA Basketball Olympic gold medalist.
In the last 24 hours, Irving, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ first overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft out of Duke University, has been vocal about his journey through hoops.
On Friday evening, Irving sat down for a conversation with high school teammate Jeremiah Green. One topic was his rapport with LeBron James while they were Cleveland Cavaliers teammates.
Irving spoke highly of James, who he says trusted him to hit a huge shot against the Golden State Warriors in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals. “I already had some game winners underneath my belt throughout my life, you know,” Irving told Green.
“To where I’ve been called upon to do that before; to be be a closer or to be ‘that closing guy’ and to be on a great team where a great player like Bron says: ‘hey lets run that play’ and I have all of the confidence in the world.'”
Throughout that NBA Finals series, Irving told Green, he had been in contact with Kobe Bryant, who was critiquing his game. “So I had just gotten done really really going through some really insightful talks with Kobe,” revealed Irving.
“I hadn’t played well the first two games in Golden State, so I called Kobe and I was like: ‘man what do you see out there?’ and he was like: ‘man be yourself, just be aggressive.'”
Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash that took the lives of nine people, including Bryant’s daughter Gigi, on Sunday, January 26.
Bryant’s death happened the day after LeBron James passed Bryant on the NBA’s all-time scoring list in a game against the Philadelphia 76ers. Irving told Green:
That was one of the hardest games that I ever had to play against Detroit. I had to leave The Garden [Madison Square Garden] early. Man it was so sudden. I broke down in the locker room when I heard about the news with Kobe, so it was; basketball was the last thing on my mind. But I don’t want to make it a sad thing. It’s just, that was just a big part of a lot of teaching and influence in my life and mentorship. It’s just, we had a different relationship. You know? I followed a lot of that man’s patterns. You know? I copied a lot of that man’s moves and who he was as a person and even the way he went about his life. You know? It really wasn’t about connecting with everyone all of the time. When you’re on a different thought pattern at times and you’re trying to explain yourself, you can overthink and overdo and that man really channeled all of that energy and all of that hate that people have for him and channeled it all into a bunch of F you’s and I’m gonna show you guys on this level.