Kyrie Irving will be ‘well prepared’ to sit in the throne when time comes
While Kyrie Irving has been probably the most elegant second-option of any team in the league, the young point guard will be ready to take the crown whenever his teammate, LeBron James, decides to cede his seat in the throne of basketball royalty.
“Whenever that time comes and it’s my time to be the leader of the franchise, then I’ll be well prepared,” Irving told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “But for now, I’m cool with just being — I’m very, very cool with being — a great guy on a great team.”
In an alpha male world with three stars in one team, egos can sometimes clash, but for the most part, this core of James, Irving, and Kevin Love has managed to coexist and develop a friendship where each is happy with the other’s success.
“I think the one thought we had was that if he embraced it, it would be a great way for him to be around a true alpha and learn how to lead,” general manager David Griffin said of the franchise’s plan for the Duke standout following James’ return to Cleveland. “So what’s happened now, I think he’s grown into that, and as he’s growing as a player and as a leader, LeBron becomes much more important to him, because having that sounding board there and having that actual example set for you is a really valuable thing.”
Irving was hailed as the hero of last year’s most crucial game of the NBA Finals, burying an array of jumpers in the final stretch, including a dagger step-back three to seal the game on the road.
Ever since, the 25-year-old has grown even more as a leader, averaging a career-high 25.2 points per game this season and a strong 24.5 points per game clip through 13 games in the playoffs.
“It hasn’t been anything short of difficult, trying to figure out when will it be my time,” Irving told McMenamin after that Game 4 against the Boston Celtics. “And the honest answer from me is that I cannot give any energy to anything that (outside) people say would be best for the team, or even sometimes what I think would be best. My job is to be in the moment, especially with an unbelievable player like (James).”
The King himself has had one of his best postseasons to date — scoring, rebounding, and assisting at an incredible pace, but in times where he has struggled, his sidekick has been right there to pick up right where he left off.
“He basically was just waiting for an opportunity to be able to blossom, and I’m just happy and blessed that when I decided to come back that I was able to help him blossom, I guess, because he gets to play in games that he’s always been built for,” James said. “He was already built for it. His game was built for it, and I’m happy, like I said, to be able to, I guess, sit back with four fouls and see him do what he’s always been built to do. He was born for these moments.”
“He’s 25. He’s got at least 10 more years. I don’t. So I want to give him the blueprint and see what he (can) do with it.”