Kyrie Irving called LeBron James to apologize, ask about leading a young team

Kyrie Irving called LeBron James to apologize, ask about leading a young team

Kyrie Irving admitted he called former teammate LeBron James on Saturday seeking guidance for how to best motivate his younger teammates towards a championship goal.

Irving essentially admitted that he sometimes lost sight of the bigger picture as James’ understudy in Cleveland but now needs help in trying to motivate Boston’s young core towards a championship goal.

The call came on the heels of Irving’s public criticism of Boston’s younger players following a frustrating loss in Orlando on Saturday.

"I’ll tell you one thing, obviously, this was a big deal for me, because I had to call Bron and tell him, I apologized for being that young player that wanted everything at his fingertips, and I wanted everything to be at my threshold,” said Irving. "I wanted to be the guy that led us to a championship. I wanted to be the leader. I wanted to be all that and the responsibility of being the best in the world and leading your team is something that is not meant for many people. Bron was one of those guys that came to Cleveland and tried to show us what it’s like to win a championship. And it was hard for him and sometimes getting the most out of the group is not the easiest thing in the world.

"Like I said, only few are meant for it or chosen for it and I feel like the best person to call was him, because he’s been in this situation. He’s been there with me, where I’ve been the young guy, being a 22-year-old kid that wanted everything, wanted everything right now. Coming off an All-Star year starting and this heck of a presence coming back and now I gotta adjust my game to this guy. You take it personal but, at the end of the day, he wants what’s best. And he has a legacy he wants to leave, and he has a window he wants to capture. So, I think what that brought me back to was like, alright, how do I get the best out of this group to the success they had last year and then helping them realize what it takes to win a championship.”

Pressed on the details of their conversation, Irving hesitated to reveal much. But by even acknowledging the call, Irving showed how much he desires to get the Celtics on track.

"Obviously our conversation is private but I gave you a great synopsis of what the conversation was like,” said Irving. "It was just a lot of responsibility that I had to take as a young player being in those shoes and then understanding where our young guys are. And how much responsibility I have to help teach them things and help them do the little things to win a championship.”

Irving was asked if he recognized why Boston’s younger players might have bristled at his public criticism.

"I’ve been on a team where things have been said publicly and it’s not the best way to get the most out of the group,” said Irving. "And you do everything as a leader of the team to get the most out of the group, and sometimes it may not be received as well as you would like. And you just have to live with that. You’ve got to live with everyone says what you should do, what you shouldn’t do. Being in this position is something new for me. So I take it with a grain of salt and I just enjoy all of this. 

Later he added: "Now I’m in this position, I asked for this and I want this. I want the responsibility. And I take it on full force. But it’s also good to reach out for help and really take responsibility for what you’ve done in your career. It takes a real man to go back, call somebody and be like, ‘Hey, man, I was young. I made some mistakes, I wasn’t seeing the big picture like you were. I didn’t have the end of the season in mind. I just wanted to get my stats and make All-Star games,’ which in his career means like this much at that point. So it was just good. And it gave me a peace of mind to go about what I’ve gotta go do. Obviously I’m going to be competing against him the best and everybody else in the league. But it was good.”

Irving made one thing clear: He won't be as friendly with LeBron when the Lakers come to town:

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NBA Power Rankings: Trade winds are starting to pick up

NBA Power Rankings: Trade winds are starting to pick up

Though we often think about NBA trade rumors closer towards the February trade deadline, there a handful of teams that might be open to moving players they signed this past summer, moves that can be executed after December 15. 

Teams look to strike for a variety of reasons, whether it’s to add a talent that they think can take to another stratosphere in terms of their play, to clear salary cap space going forward, or to add what may be the missing piece for a run at the Larry O’Brien Trophy. 

Much of the talk surrounding the Boston Celtics and what they need to do to get better revolves around the center position. Multiple league sources have indicated the Celtics are open to the idea if a team wants to talk, but they are not aggressively looking to made a trade … yet. 

“You just never really know with Danny,” a league executive told NBC Sports Boston. “A ‘no’ on a deal today, could become a ‘hey, let’s do it’ tomorrow depending on if circumstances play out that make doing a deal a logical, sensible move to make."

And as deals get talked about and eventually completed, it also will impact where teams stack up in our weekly power rankings.

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Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-76ers, which tips off Thursday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Tommy have the call at 8 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Marcus Smart out, Al Horford questionable for Celtics-76ers showdown

Marcus Smart out, Al Horford questionable for Celtics-76ers showdown

The Boston Celtics will be without one of their most important players Thursday night when they host the rival Philadelphia 76ers at TD Garden.

Smart, who's dealing with a left eye infection, was officially ruled out by the C's early Thursday afternoon. The veteran guard has missed the last two games, including Wednesday night's road loss to the Indiana Pacers.

Second-year center Robert Williams' absence also will be felt. The 76ers have a big frontcourt with plenty of size and length, headlined by star center Joel Embiid and power forward Al Horford. The Celtics don't have a ton of depth at center, and with Williams out, expect Enes Kanter and Daniel Theis to play the majority of the minutes against Embiid.

Speaking of Horford, he's questionable to play in his first game back in Boston since he left the Celtics to sign with the 76ers in July as a free agent.

Thursday's game is the second meeting of the season between these rivals. The Sixers beat the Celtics in Philadelphia on opening night. Boston is 10-0 at home.

Jaylen Brown says Horford's return 'should be celebrated'>>>

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