From explicit remarks about Thanksgiving to once considering himself a flat-earther and then apologizing for his comments, the latest news in the Kyrie Irving saga has been one that dates back a few years — his relationship with former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate LeBron James.
It was reported earlier in the year that Irving made a phone call to James apologizing in hindsight for his actions, which included a trade request, back when the two were teammates.
When questioned by the media about the phone call over All-Star weekend, Irving responded with “That’s none of your business.”
But Irving sat down with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols for an interview that aired Wednesday morning where Irving opened up about a few topics that have been of hot debate recently, including the struggles of being a team leader, working with a young core group of players and the infamous phone call to LeBron.
“Well, I think that, you know, it takes a very, very strong individual to replay a lot of the experiences that you’ve had,” Irving said of the call. “A lot of anger that you’ve had built up, where you didn’t address the situation and you allowed it to fester. And then it was just combustion and then you realize, ‘Hey, I didn’t have to deal with that the same way I dealt with that.’”
“But for me, it’s just … apologizing, yeah, that was a step for me, just to move forward in my life,” Irving said.
Irving’s future, which he was certain was still with the Celtics back when the NBA season began in October, seems to be in question now. During his sit-down with Nichols, he expressed frustration with the young Celtics team, something that is probably a familiar scene to him back in his days playing alongside LeBron.
“We basically have a bunch of young men in our locker room who feel like they’re capable of doing a lot more than they’re doing,” Irving said. “And that’s OK, but there’s a maturing that you have to have.”
Irving also doesn’t believe he is receiving adequate playing time compared to other Celtics players.
“I initially didn’t play the minutes I wanted to play,” Irving said. “I’m 26 years old, heading into my prime, like, why do I have to wait for anybody?”
Irving will be eligible to opt out of his contract with the Celtics on July 1.
As for James, he and Irving are on good terms, with James saying he “always thought he was special.”
“It takes a real man and a real person to be able to understand who they are,” James said of Irving. “To be able call or do anything and be able to see their wrongdoings, or believe they had some wrongdoing, and then be able to come to grips with that and either apologize or say that, ‘At that point in time, I thought I was ready for something, but I really wasn’t.’ ”