Kyrie Irving’s introductory press conference began with a tribute to the two Boston Celtics he just traded places with and ended with an appreciation of Cleveland Cavaliers teammate LeBron James.
Throughout Friday’s half-hour meeting with the media, Irving and the Celtics brass took the high road amid a barrage of questions about the six-week soap opera that led him from Cleveland to Boston. [restrict]
The first query posed to the four-time All-Star point guard: Kyrie, you’ve said that you want to be in a place where you can maximize your potential. Why do you feel like Boston can be that place for you?
“Before we get to that,” Irving began, “I just wanted to say that sometimes we get lost in these two hoops and basketball. We lose track of the most humane things that make us human sometimes, and I want to take a timeout to send my heartfelt well energy to Jae Crowder and his mother, because that’s a hard situation to go through, especially when it gets up in all of this, as well as [Isaiah Thomas’] sister, and as well as all those affected in Charlottesville and those affected in Houston.
“That is all reality-based, and I live in that world,” he added. “Basketball, me perfecting my craft, is very important to me, but outside of this game I very much live a real life, and I appreciate all the people around me as well as all the human beings I end up meeting. I just wanted to say that my appreciation for the world goes deeper than a lot of people realize, and I pay my respects for all those people as well as anyone affected by anything. We’re all here with you, and my prayers are with you.”
Thomas lost his sister Chyna a day before Boston’s playoff run last season. Crowder’s mother died the day the Celtics agreed to deal him. The two players, along with Ante Zizic, Brooklyn’s 2018 first-round pick and a 2020 second-round selection from Miami, were finally traded for Irving on Wednesday.
Irving’s poignant remarks set the tone for what was a thoughtful 30 minutes in Boston, but the elephant in the room lingered until the morning’s final question: What’s your relationship with LeBron now? Have you spoken with him since this whole process began with his asking for the trade?
“No. I haven’t spoken to him,” said Irving, pausing for a moment before crediting James for his growth.
“I’d be lying to you guys if I didn’t tell you how much I learned from that guy,” he said. “The perfection of the craft comes in a variety of forms, and 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 you’ve had and you’ve shared, you’re able to put peace with that journey and start anew. This was a very, very challenging decision at first, but after a while, you understand and you have that confidence in yourself to understand the magnitude of what you actually can accomplish and potentially can do with other great people.
“Now that I’m sitting here, it just echoes in terms of me being very appreciative of the Cleveland fans and all of Ohio, as well as Bron incorporating me into that special team that we had, because three Finals in a row, all the shared memories with all the individuals … the brotherhood exists, even without all of this, and it will continue. That’s exactly where it is, and I’m very appreciative of it.”
The idea that Irving hasn’t talked to James since this Eastern Conference drama began is certainly notable, considering the point guard’s trade request come anywhere from seven to 10 weeks ago.
But if anyone came to the press conference looking for a sound bite to play before the Celtics and Cavaliers meet in the opening game of the NBA season on Oct. 17, they weren’t going to get one beyond Irving turning to new Boston teammate Gordon Hayward and saying, “It’s about to be crazy, G.” [restrict]