Kyrie Irving is undoubtedly one of the best talents in the NBA right now, but his ability to lead a team has always been questioned since his days in Cleveland.
Kyrie Irving on His Leadership
“Even when you’re tired, even when you’re having good days, bad days. You got to be able to galvanize the group even when it’s low and even when it’s high,” Irving said via Nets Wire.
“It’s just the balance of leadership, and there isn’t one leader. I’ve had to accept that, too. It’s not on me to lead the group by myself and be the hero that everybody wants to — because that’s what America is. They love to build you up, love to tear your [expletive] right down.”
Irving had a highly publicized exit from both Cleveland and Boston which resulted in the media painting a negative picture of him as a team cancer. Now that he has been able to have a fresh start for the third time in his career, Irving has learned from his mistakes.
“There were a lot of people speaking for me, or speaking on my behalf, who didn’t really know who I was. I didn’t offer that access to a lot of people,” Irving said.
"There were a lot of people speaking for me, on my behalf, who didn't know who I was…in Cleveland and in Boston"
Kyrie Irving talks about what he's learned about leadership during his time with the Cavaliers & Celtics and what he's now brought to Brooklyn pic.twitter.com/k0dIR80nf0
— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) February 26, 2021
Kyrie’s Rocky Cavalier Exit
Irving requested a trade from Cleveland in the summer of 2017 after losing to Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, and the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported that the reason that he no longer wanted to play for the Cavs was that he did not want to play with LeBron James.
Despite Irving and LeBron’s reported rift, the four-time champion insisted that they were on good terms back in 2019.
“Yeah, we’re in a good place right now. Me and Kyrie are in a good place right now,” LeBron told Joe Vardon of The Athletic via Slam.”
“I love the man that he’s becoming, I love the challenges he’s accepted and I always wish the best for him.”
Kyrie Has Learned From His Past Situations
How he handled the exits from Cleveland and Boston has only made Kyrie a better person in the long run. He has learned from those mistakes and now he’ll use his mistakes to guide the next generation of players in the right direction.
“I’m grateful to be in this position to set a better example now than I did then. I take accountability for not necessarily stepping up to the plate or stepping up to the responsibility for my own actions,” Irving said via Nets Wire.
“I had a lot to do with the success and failures of the teams that I was on. I take my role very seriously in terms of that, and I’ve been able to learn lessons from that to give to others.”
Now in his new role with the Nets, Irving is a 10-year veteran, with a lot of experience under his belt. This allows him to mentor some of his younger teammates and teach them to not make the same mistakes he has in the past.
“That’s been the most beautiful part, just to learn. That’s the growth, so I’m just more excited about that than anything. It’s been able to translate to here with the guys that are here. It’s always been bigger than the game for me is what I’m saying. Leadership now is just above having fun and giving those guys energy.”
Kyrie’s Energy Is Contagious
Landry Shamet, Nets’ guard and teammate of Irving’s, spoke about how much he loves working with the seven-time all-star.
“It’s been great to be able to be around him, be in the locker room with him, get to know him as a person — not just a basketball player, but a person,” Shamet said via NBA.com
“I know he believes in all of his teammates and he wants the best for all of us.”
The bumps along the road have crafted Irving into a great player and an even better person.