"I haven't been a leader - not at all."
These are the words of Cavs point guard Kyrie Irving in an interview with RealGM.com. The interview gives a powerful glimpse into the mind of the Cavaliers' 22 year old point guard that is very much still trying to find his way in the NBA.
"Everybody asks me if this is my year to be a leader ... I haven't been so far though, not at all ... I've just been a kid trying to figure it out. There's no perfect way to be a leader, and coming in as a 19-year-old kid and having everything bearing on your shoulders, there are a lot of ups and downs. Now it's about being the best every single day and not being afraid." ...
"I'm more than excited with our new veterans. I'm really excited just from the standpoint of how the locker room is going to go and how to really be a professional. I'm not saying that the veterans that we had weren't professionals themselves, but we didn't have enough. Given the right and wrong things to do in the league, I've had to learn on my own and that's what some of us been doing."
Make sure you go read the whole thing over at RealGM.com. It's a great interview.
The Cavs have been a mess since the departure of LeBron James. Both the front office and the players have had their ups and downs. Now with the return of LeBron, the franchise is arguably in the best position it's ever been in to win a championship. It's really important that Irving realizes that the team will be held to a higher standard now and that each player will be held accountable by both the coaching staff and the veterans in the locker room.
Losing situations breed bad habits, and there wasn't a single player that's been a part of this franchise since The Decision that wasn't guilty of immature behavior or poor attitude at times. We've heard Dion Waiters come out this summer and speak about changing his role and mentality with LeBron aboard. Now we hear from Irving, the teams most talented player and best player up until this point in the rebuild come out and say that he failed as a leader and knows he needs to be better. You can't make improvements if you don't realize that you have something that needs fixing.
Irving coming to this realization and working on himself and his game gives the Cavaliers a big leg up, the fewer adjustments and growing that need to take place within the season, the quicker the team will gel.
The effect that LeBron James, James Jones, Mike Miller, Shawn Marion and possibly Ray Allen will have on young, hard working players like Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson will surely be massive. They are all in the best possible situation for themselves to succeed, should they take advantage of it.
Irving also went on to talk about new head coach David Blatt:
"I didn't know [Blatt] before, but I've watched plenty of film on him,. When I watch tape of coach's offense, he gives his guards freedom. I'm just going to learn from him and our veterans, and put everything into my game. [Blatt] gives a lot of freedom to make plays. That's what you want from a coach."
This is all really great stuff to hear and hopefully Irving continues to reach the personal goals he is setting for himself. The Cavs are currently blessed with the best player in the game, but one day they will need someone else to carry that torch. Luckily for them they also have an incredibly talented point guard who seems ready to learn.