Ever since he asked out last summer, and ultimately was traded to the Celtics, Kyrie Irving hasn’t talked much about his time in Cleveland. That changed somewhat on Tuesday.
During a post-practice scrum, Irving was asked about what he learned after being made the face of the Cavs after being taken No. 1 overall in the 2011 NBA Draft. Except according to Irving, he wasn’t the team’s face.
“I wasn’t the face of the franchise,” he said, per The Boston Globe. “They made that very clear. I was just a great piece in Cleveland, which I gratefully accepted.”
Why asked why that was the case, Irving said he wasn’t given to the keys to the franchise in the way he wanted.
“They weren’t giving me the keys to the franchise,” he said. “They weren’t. I was too young, man. I didn’t deserve them. But after I while, I felt like I earned it and I took a lot of that responsibility on myself. Still wasn’t ready to do it, but learned a lot from that point to be at this position now.”
Irving was also asked about second fiddle to LeBron James — something he hated being asked about last year — and said he learned from LeBron and said it was “something he needed.”
“Whether it was the lieutenant, sergeant, whatever you want to call it to Bron, I think that being around him and his basketball knowledge, as well as all the other veterans that complemented us at that time, was something I needed,” Irving said. “I was just, I was the fourth year in, just signed a $90 million contract. I’m thirsty for everything, and for the most part I’ve just been taught to roll out the ball and go play.”
Irving also said that experience helped make him ready to lead the Celtics this year and into the future, which from a Cavs perspective is frustrating. In another reality, Irving would be leading these Cavs post-Kevin Love — perhaps with Kevin Love locked in too — and perhaps on the verge of signing a super max a year from now.
But, understandably, the Cavs really centered themselves around LeBron, getting him back and then winning with him. That is at least partly why Irving wanted out last summer. But what if they had? It’s an interesting alternate realty. And it’d certainly interesting to see what the Cavs have to say about Irving’s comments.