It is no secret that Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving was heavily influenced by late Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant. Irving was one of Bryant’s mentees in the last days of his NBA career. When the greatest players of all time are discussed, the names that usually come up are LeBron James and Michael Jordan. But Irving said there is no doubt in his mind that Bryant is the greatest player ever.
“When I say [Kobe is] the greatest to play this game, it doesn’t mean I’m knocking anybody else, all right? F***, let me finish my story,“ Irving said during a Twitch live stream session on May 10 via @pinatafarms on Twitter. “The greatest to play this game to me! I don’t give a f*** what you talking about. I don’t care about your stats.”
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Irving Reveals How Bryant Helped Him During 2016 Finals
Irving was the hero of the 2016 NBA Finals who, with a go-ahead 3-pointer in Game 7, willed his Cleveland Cavaliers over the Golden State Warriors while trailing 3-1 in the series. On the same Twitch stream, Irving revealed that Bryant gave him advice before the 2016 season that ultimately helped him push the Cavs to the franchise’s first-ever title.
“’You can’t give a f*** about what people say,’” Irving said Bryant told him. “’And if you are paying attention to what people say, stop! Stop paying attention to all that b*******. People are going to talk about anyway. Just be you. Don’t take a backseat to anybody, just be you,’” Irving revealed via a Twitch live stream.
After the Cavs went down 3-1 in the 2016 Finals, Irving said that he called Bryant for advice once again. But the late Hall of Famer didn’t have to say much to Irving, who was 23 years old at the time. Irving said he already knew how to approach the rest of the series, and the result was the Cleveland Cavaliers making a historic comeback.
“We get down 3-1, and I just remember there was a calm that we had about us. We just knew that we were going to do something special. I just remember calling Kobe,” Irving continued.
“He just said, ‘I think you know what I’m going to say.’ And the rest is history. Won my first ‘chip, I saw my dad and my sister afterward, but the first people I called were Kobe and Gigi. Those were the first people I called after I won the ‘chip because it happened. Everything he said I needed to do, I did. I followed the blueprint. And we won.”
Kyrie Wants Kobe as New NBA Logo
Irving is never shy about paying homage to Bryant, who died in January 2020. Last season he made a surprise suggestion that Kobe should replace Jerry West as the silhouette of the NBA logo.
“He was the standard for our generation, and he will continue on, and I want that to be something in history that is changed forever, that our generation was part of that change,” Irving said after a game in February 2021.
“And, you know, if that means that I have to lead that forward and get the conversation going, then great. But I think he deserves it. I think his family deserves it. I think we deserve it as seeing greatness personified as Mamba. And anyone that’s coming into the league should know that that’s the example that was set. I know that it probably was met with some people that love it, love the idea, and some people that don’t like it, but my thing is paying homage to the example that has been set by that man.”