BOSTON -- For most of Kyrie Irving’s joint press conference with Gordon Hayward, the name LeBron James seemed as though it would not be uttered.
Irving, who asked for a trade in part to get from under James’s shadow, was well aware of the rumors about he and LeBron not being on the best of terms even before his trade demand.
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Those rumors won’t die anytime soon, but on Friday Irving did speak to their relationship and what it has meant to him both as a person and a player.
While they have been teammates for the past three years, Irving indicated the two had a prior friendship. That certainly helped with the transition.
“I would be sitting up here telling you guys a lie if I didn’t tell you how much I learned from that guy,” Irving said. “The perfection of the craft comes in a variety of forms, and you watch and you watch and you ask a lot of the great players, what does it take to be great?
Irving added: “I’ve had the unique opportunity to play with one of the greats. It was awesome. At times, it was all over just like it is in any other team. And when you look back, you’re eternally grateful for the moments that you had and you shared. You’re able to be at peace with that journey and start anew.”
Based on Irving’s comments, it seems that more than anything else, an opportunity to continue his growth as a player, was the driving force behind his decision to ask for a trade despite being on a team that had made three straight trips to the NBA Finals and was once again an early favorite to make it four in a row.
“This was a very, very challenging decision at first,” Irving said. “But after a while, you understand and you have that confidence in yourself and understand the magnitude of what you can accomplish and potentially do. Now that I’m sitting here, it just echoes in me of being appreciative of not only the Cleveland fans, all of Ohio, as well as ‘Bron and that special team we had in Cleveland. Three finals in a row. All the shared memories . . . the brotherhood exists even without all this and it will continue. That’s exactly where it is.”
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