Kyrie Irving was aware of the talk about Brad Stevens when he was with the Cavs.
"Watching from the other sidelines, you just get kind of an outside observer's view," Irving told Abby Chin and Brian Scalabrine Monday at Celtics Media Day. "[You] hear so many great comments about what he is in terms of an intellectual, and what he brings to the game, and his talent that he brings out of the players.
"You hear, 'Best young coach in the NBA right now and he's cementing [that opinion] by getting better from season to season to season to season. He's consistent all the time. And the guys love him. And they love playing for him. And the city loves him.'"
Then Irving got a first-hand look at the coach he'd heard so much about. Not when he joined the Celtics, but last February when Stevens coached Irving on the Eastern Conference All-Star team.
And he realized everything people had said was true.
"I've been in four All-Star Games and that was the one that I'll remember most," he said. "Because Coach Stevens took the time to put all our child highlights together, from high school . . . put pictures up of, like, all of us, indivually, like Paul Millsap, [LeBron James], myself, Paul George . . .
"And [we're] sitting there before the All-Star Game and [he told us], 'Don't ever forget. This is where it started for you guys. This love, and you guys are all here sharing this experience, and I want to make this memorable.' And right there, he did."
And now that he's a Celtic?
"Oh, man, I wouldn't want to be with another coach," Irving said. "Because he is that intellectual. He is that high-character guy. He's growth-oriented. He wants the best for his team. He's realistic about his goals, about the mission . . .
"That's who he is. He's a smart individual that knows basketball."