Kyrie Irving praises LeBron James for how he handles the spotlight

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It's almost been a year since Kyrie Irving surprisingly handed in his trade request to the Cleveland Cavaliers and was sent away as a result to the Boston Celtics.

Kyrie and LeBron

One of the main reported reasons as to why Irving wanted out of the Cavaliers is because of LeBron James. He wanted to become the focal point of a team, rather than continuing to play in the shadow of the four-time MVP winner.

Yet, depsite the way in which his time in Cleveland ended, the point guard still thinks highly of the King, as he discussed his time playing alongside the Cavs icon during an interview on The Bill Simmons Podcast, via HoopsHype.

Testament of greatness

Irving said on the podcast that learning to play alongside LeBron is a "testament of greatness" because of the never-ending spotlight which he finds himself in.

Irving said: “Inevitably, when you’re playing with a great player like ‘Bron, it’s gonna be a lot. And I feel like that right there is a testament of greatness how you adapt to those situations. Instead of kind of willing away from the challenge, why run away from it? I just ran full force and took it by the head. There are times where it was really, really tough. Really, really tough.”

He added: "I went from being in Cleveland to having half the fans show up to now 'Bron shows up and now every night is packed, every road game is like a home game for us.

"You think of the media attention that comes with all of that and the elevated pressure of, 'Now it's championship or you fail.' And then you gotta figure out how you fit within the system. Basketball is a systemic game. How do you build that strategy and how do you fit in with that? And it was tough."

Irving was traded to the Celtics by the Cavaliers in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, the rights to the Brooklyn Nets' 2018 first-round draft pick, and a 2020 second-round draft pick via the Miami Heat.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics

Since then, the Celtics have reached new heights, and with the emergence of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, they look like they could be one of the favourites to dominate the Eastern Conference for years to come.

The Cavs, on the other hand, have taken a step back. Although they did reach the NBA Finals for the fourth consecutive year, they were swept 4-0 by the Golden State Warriors and now could potentially lose LeBron this offseason if he opts out of his current contract.

Oddly enough, there's a chance Irving and James could become teammates again if he was to join the Celtics as a free agent. You would have to think though because of the point guard's desire to be the focal point in Boston, he would politely ask them to not make it happen.

CLICK HERE to listen to Episode Two of the new GiveMeSport NBA podcast, featuring New York Times senior writer Marc Stein. Subscribe for all future episodes.

Kyrie Irving
Kevin Love
Boston Celtics
LeBron James

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