Although many of the details of Kyrie Irving’s strained relationship with the Cleveland Cavaliers remain murky, one aspect is a generally-accepted fact.
Sometime after the NBA Finals, the Cavaliers shopped Irving and he found out. Once he found out, he was hurt and lost all trust in the organization.
As Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post reported on Friday, Irving was told that he might be traded to the Phoenix Suns just days after losing the NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors.
Therefore, not only did Irving have to undergo the heartbreaking emotions that came after losing the Finals, but he also had to deal with the premise that he was now unwanted in Cleveland, where he spent the entirety of his career. He also helped bring the first-ever title to the franchise, but that no longer mattered.
We all know what transpired after that point. Irving was traded to the Boston Celtics and is now in a great position, leading them to the first seed in the Eastern Conference while performing at an MVP-caliber level.
But, what did Irving do immediately after finding out that he might be traded?
He enlisted the help of NBA legend Kobe Bryant.
“He was one of the guys that I reached out to,” Irving told Bontemps. “Not necessarily to gauge his thoughts on the decision, or to give me the okay, but it was for some clarity and also what the next steps going forward [would be]. … Because there was some chance I was going to maybe be in Phoenix, or maybe in situations where the environment hadn’t been winning for a while, and Kobe dealt with that in 2005-06, and that was tough. So I had to ask him, and gauge him about that. But after the fact, after everything happened, he was just super proud, and super happy.”
Bryant dealt with similar situations throughout his career, but he never broke his loyalty with the Los Angeles Lakers and never publicly demanded a trade. But, Bryant didn't advise Irving to place loyalty over his own interests.
“Despite what was going on from the outside influences and what everyone else felt was best for him, [Bryant] always did what was best for his career for himself,” Irving said. “He figured it out. At times throughout a professional career you’re going to be tested, and there are times where you’re going try to appease the media, you try to appease your teammates, you try to appease the coaching staff, whoever, whatever situation you are in, you try to kind of blend in.”
Irving concluded, “The best thing I learned from him is you don’t necessarily have to blend in. You can stand out.”
Now in Boston, Irving has, by all accounts, been a wonderful teammate and has brought a completely new skill set to an already-solid team. He has stayed true to himself and decided that he could no longer stay emotionally-invested in Cleveland after the team considered trading him. Therefore, his path is different than Kobe’s, but it’s obvious that he appreciated the future Hall of Famer’s advice.News Now - Sport News