The Cleveland Cavaliers open up their third NBA Finals series in a row Thursday night, taking on the Golden State Warriors to round out a trilogy together.
The Cavaliers and Warriors are both superteams, built around star power and budget veterans looking to cap off their careers with a championship. That makes for plenty of larger-than-life personalities and egos on the floor all series long.
Kyrie Irving may have been the biggest benefactor of LeBron James returning to Cleveland. He went from hoping the NBA Draft lottery would send him help to being a featured star in the NBA Finals in the span of a few years.
It was a big shift for Kyrie, though, who once had free reign over the Cavaliers as their unquestioned leader. Adjusting to playing with someone as dominant as LeBron was a big task for Kyrie, but the duo has become even greater together.
"It's like a deep understanding because of how great he is and how great I want to be. And that's a hard balance to figure out with two people. And especially the difference in age and what he's doing and what I'm trying to do.
"But I think that just understanding how great it is for both of us to be on the team at the same time and us not trying to get in each other's ways," Irving told Dave McMenamin of ESPN.
Irving decided to pick the brain of Kobe Bryant to help him manage the new dynamic he had with LeBron, hoping he could learn how to approach the situation. Bryant made one of the NBA's greatest duos of all-time with Shaquille O'Neal, but their relationship deteriorated over the years.
Irving's hopeful what he's learned from Kobe will help him avoid the same outcome with LeBron in Cleveland.
"It's a tough balance because everyone knows, Shaq was really dominant and [had] a lot of the individual accolades ... unbelievable. And that's who he was. And Kobe was just consistently working on his game and consistently trying to prove everyone all the time...
"That just shows the true testament of their will and what they're willing to do and what they're willing to sacrifice, but I know I don't want to look back and say that I let my selfishness get in the way of us winning championships, because we have unbelievable talent on this team and unbelievable players, and so I don't want to ever take that for granted," Irving told McMenamin.
So far, so good as LeBron and Kyrie enter their third NBA Finals together with no sight of competition in the Eastern Conference.