For the first time since requesting a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers more than a month ago, Kyrie Irving told his side of the story.
Speaking at his introductory press conference with the Boston Celtics on Friday morning, Irving stressed the patient approach he took to what he referred to as a "courageous" decision to ask for a trade from his former team. And after more than a month's worth of apparent subtweets and other not-so-subtle social media posts, the 4-time All-Star finally discussed his heavily scrutinized relationship with LeBron James.
"I haven't spoken with him," Irving answered when asked if he had talked to James since asking the Cavs for a trade. "My intent, like I said, was for my best intentions."
But while it may seem clear Cleveland's now-former co-stars aren't currently on the best of terms, Irving also expressed appreciation for his three-year tenure playing alongside James.
"To look back at the amount of ground we covered in the last three-year span, to really realize how special that was and how much stuff happened in that amount of time, I'd be sitting up here and telling you guys a lie if I didn't tell you I learned so much from that guy," Irving said.
"The perfection of the craft comes in a variety of forms and you watch, you ask a lot of 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."
That, however, was no longer enough for Irving, who made it clear on Friday he was now looking to forge his own path. In July, days after Irving's request first became public, ESPN reported that Irving had grown "tired of being Robin to James' Batman."
And although he didn't say as much directly, Irving's comments on Friday only strengthened that sentiment.
"To be in a place like this where everyone gravitates to us as a team," Irving said, "I just wanted to be a part of that."
Irving got his wish and as a result, the new Celtic finds himself at odds with the Cavs, with Boston and Cleveland considered the top-two teams in the Eastern Conference. And while Irving said he hasn't put much thought into all that will go into facing his now-former team, he won't have to wait long to do just that; the Cavs and Celtics will kickoff the NBA's 2017-18 campaign with an Oct. 17 date in Cleveland.
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