In his introductory press conference with the Boston Celtics on Friday, Kyrie Irving finally opened up and answered some questions that NBA fans were dying to know the answers to.
While some of his answers were predictable, especially regarding his excitement about playing in Boston, one reporter asked him to address the elephant in the room: his relationship with former co-superstar LeBron James.
Seemingly prepared to answer the question and knowing that the media was ready to pounce on whatever he said, Irving delivered a very direct and sincere statement about the trade process and how it pertained to his relationship with LeBron.
"I haven't spoken to him and my intent, like I said, was for my best intentions. To look back at the amount of ground we covered in the last three-year span, or even before that because ... to really realize how special that was and how much stuff happened in that amount of time, I'd be sitting up here and telling you guys a lie if I didn't tell you how much I really learned from that guy,” Irving explained.
He continued, ”The perfection of the craft comes in a variety of forms and you watch, you ask a lot of the great players, what does it take to be great? I've had the unique opportunity to play with one of the greats and it was awesome.”
Therefore, while Irving's initial comment about a lack of communication suggests that there was a clear rift between the two stars, the point guard took the high road and praised his former teammate and the city of Cleveland for believing in him.
"This was a very, very challenging decision at first, but after a while you understand and you have that confidence in yourself to understand the magnitude of what you actually can accomplish and potentially can do with other great people," Irving said. "And now that I'm sitting here, it just echoes in terms of me just being very appreciative of not only the Cleveland fans, but all of Ohio, as well as Bron in incorporating me into that special team we had in Cleveland.”
Irving clearly stated that his trade request stemmed from the idea that he’d be able to live up to his individual potential elsewhere. Since Cleveland is undoubtedly LeBron’s team (and rightfully so), Irving thought that the best option for him to fulfill his personal goals was somewhere other than the city in which he played his first six NBA seasons.
Irving and James helped lead the Cavs to three-straight NBA Finals appearances and also pulled off the improbable championship comeback against the Golden State Warriors in 2016. That was the Cavaliers’ first title and the first for any major Cleveland sports team since way back in 1964.
Irving and James’ relationship will undoubtedly be the biggest storyline heading into the highly-anticipated October 17 matchup between the two teams. In that contest, both players will attempt to send a clear message to each other on the court in what will absolutely be must-watch television.