Kyrie Irving: Leaving Cavaliers “Wasn’t About Basketball,” Grateful For Playing With LeBron James

Bryan Brandom
(Photo: Getty Images)

Kyrie Irving and LeBron James went to three straight NBA Finals together. Now they haven’t spoken in months.

But that doesn’t mean Irving isn’t thankful for his opportunity to play with LeBron, whom the point guard called “one of the greats.”

After the trade of Irving to the Boston Celtics finally went through, the team held a press conference on Friday, formally introducing Irving and fellow All-Star acquisition Gordon Hayward.

“I can’t wait to get on the floor and maximize my potential,” Irving said of his new team. “I just want to be around those incredible coaches and those incredible minds and those incredible individuals, and I feel like in doing that, Boston came right at the exact time and it was meant to be that way. I trust in that, and I’m glad to be here.”

Naturally, he was asked about the status of the status of his relationship with his former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate.

“I haven’t spoken to [James], and my intent [in asking for a trade], like I said, was for my best intentions,” Irving said. “To look back at the amount of ground we covered in the last three-year span … 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 I learned so much from that guy.

“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. … When you look back and you’re eternally grateful for the moments that you’ve had and shared; you’re able to put peace with that journey and start anew.”

Irving repeatedly insisted that his decision to leave the Cavaliers came not because he didn’t enjoy his time in Cleveland, but that it was about testing the limits of what he can accomplish as a basketball player.

“Me leaving there wasn’t about basketball; it was more or less about creating that foundation of me in Cleveland, and then now taking this next step as a 25-year-old evolving man and being the best basketball player I can be.”

A day before the press conference, Irving bid farewell to Cavaliers fans in an Instagram post.

 

“My special thank you to Cleveland” *Link in Bio. My love extends way beyond the court I have for Cleveland and it will always be a place thats special because of the great people and experiences. The Ups and downs, we stand and fight no matter what the circumstances are, and that’s what being in Cleveland embodies, it is all Love and a whole lotta pride. To the incredible individuals I’ve met who support the Cleveland organization and help allow us as Players to feel a special bond to the State/City and shared countless moments with, keep being YOU and know that my appreciation is eternal. Thank you From my whole being for being there as I was a 19 year old kid coming into the league, to now where I start another step in the journey as a 25 year old Evolving man. It will Always be Love and respect Cleveland. “The journey is always the Reward” #KyrieWick

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