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

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(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.