When Kyrie Irving asked the Cleveland Cavaliers for a trade earlier this summer, most reports suggested that he wanted to become the face of a different franchise, escaping the shadow of LeBron James.
After weeks of wondering where he’d end up, the Boston Celtics made the Cavs an offer they couldn’t refuse and the 25-year-old point guard officially became a member of the team that he played against in last season’s Eastern Conference Finals.
However, his role in Boston has not yet been defined. Since the team signed All-Star forward Gordon Hayward, features veteran center Al Horford and also has a talented slew of young players like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown on the roster, would Irving immediately step in and become the face of the franchise?
Paul Pierce, who spent most of his Hall of Fame level career with the Celtics, believes that Irving will assume that leadership role immediately and could be even better than Isaiah Thomas was last year.
"Kyrie can impact this team in a major way," Pierce said in an interview with Comcast Sports Net New England's A. Sherrod Blakely. "You saw what Isaiah Thomas was able to do. A lot of people, even though Isaiah averaged more points, a lot of people believe Kyrie is a better scorer."
Irving averaged a career-high 25.2 points per game on a career-high 47.3 percent shooting last season. He also showed deadly accuracy from beyond the three-point line, knocking down an impressive 40.1 percent of his shots from downtown.
"He was ready for this type of role, to be the lead guy," Pierce said. "He's learned a lot under LeBron's tutelage. He's ready to share that with his teammates and possibly bring another championship to Boston…If you can average 25 points, 26 points and you got LeBron James on your team, that’s pretty impressive."
Irving made it a point to thank James for his guidance during his introductory press conference in Boston.
"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,” he said.
Irving added, “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.”
“He’s going to be the guy,” Pierce said, speaking of Irving. “He has championship experience. He’s still young and he’s got some other guys to play with.”
Since Boston gave up a lot to acquire him, Celtics fans hope “The Truth” is speaking the truth when it comes to their new superstar.