"It comes down to, I had a goal that I wanted to accomplish in the season with my team, the Cleveland Cavaliers,” Irving told Sporting News during the team's recent trip to Harlem. “Now, when the opportunity with USA Basketball starts knocking at your door, to be part of an Olympic team, it’s hard to turn it down."
“If you look at all three of them as individuals, what they bring to their team, they’re winners,” Irving said. “They’re also championship winners, and they know what it takes in order to sacrifice to win something big. I’m so glad we have them on the team.”
But that doesn't mean he's not going to rub the victory in his temporary teammates' faces.
"There are three Warriors on the team and I'm the champion, so I'll be throwing it in their face a bit," he joked with Mike & Mike on Tuesday.
According to Barnes, the ribbing has already begun.
“He had some jokes when I first saw him,” Barnes said. “We got past all that, and we’ll have fun playing on the same team.”
Irving won gold as part of Team USA at the 2014 FIBA World Championships. This will be his first time representing the country in the Olympics.
"It’s been a dream of mine for a long time, and I want to be a part of something bigger than myself again, other than my own team," he said. "It would be amazing, but I understand the amount of work that it takes to win, not just a championship, but the gold medal. Playing with USA on your chest, playing for so many people — it’s bigger than all of us. I’m glad that I could do it with these guys here.”