Despite his stubbornness off the court, there’s no denying that Kyrie Irving is a supreme talent on the court. He’s arguably the most entertaining player in basketball from a skill standpoint and is a walking highlight real. But before Irving became a champion and All-Star, he relied on the mentorship of his idol, Kobe Bryant.
Irving’s friendship with Bryant (who he considers the greatest basketball player of all time) goes way back to their Olympics days. Since then, Kyrie and Kobe have been in touch with each other off the court.
How Kobe motivated Kyrie
In 2016, Irving said that Bryant once told him that he felt the Golden State Warriors would win the NBA championship that year. To Kyrie’s dismay, he told Bryant that that would not happen, and promised that it would be the Clevland Cavaliers holding that trophy by the end of the season instead.
“Bro, can you imagine Kobe saying this? This is like, my hero,” Irving said. “... We’re at dinner bro and this dude says this s--t to me, man. I’m looking at this dude like, bro, what?,” Irving said. The former Cavallier added that he responded to Bryant by saying: “They’re not f--king winning this year. We’re gonna win this s--t.”
The victory call
True to Irving’s words, the Cavaliers ended up winning the 2016 title after completing the most remarkable comeback in NBA Finals history. Not only did Irving outplay Stephen Curry in Game 7, but Uncle Drew knocked down the most clutch shot of the series. So, after the Cavaliers won their first title in franchise history, Irving made sure to call Bryant immediately as soon as he got to the locker room.
“I remember sitting at the couch at home after Clevland came back from that 3-1 deficit and beat Golden State and we’re watching the game, sitting on the couch and me and Gianna are there just kind of hanging out. And then my phone rings, it’s a FaceTime call and I hate FaceTime calls like don’t FaceTime call me unless it’s my family right — but it’s Kyrie. I like let me pick it up and I pick it up and Kyrie’s in the locker room celebrating on FaceTime like ‘Dude it worked, your advice worked’ he’s completely freaking out,” Bryant shared. “I was really really proud of him, so I’d say Kyrie is probably the one I’m closest to,” Bryant added.
The advice Bryant told Irving has yet to be disclosed to the public, but one thing’s for sure, Kyrie was Kobe’s closest mentee.