Yo, what's up, everybody? Welcome to the ETCs we're here, we've been talking about culture, everything, culture, people, whatever their stuff that we experience, stuff that we love to do. Just a conversation. Man you got the co-host here, Eddie Gonzalez. I think I will start calling you Eddie. Gee, I want to go to the whole basket or I can't go you Eddie Gonzalez the whole time.
But I feel like the longer you know somebody, the shorter their name becomes for you. Yeah.
It's a special episode this week for a few reasons. It's my birthday turned thirty two. Happy birthday, man.
Eddie's just alive, which is a good thing.
And we have one of the best human beings, most talented people on the planet. And Kyrie Irving here to kick this all us.
Yeah man it's the perfect guest for so many reasons. Obviously everybody's looking forward. You guys plan. You guys have a friendship that goes back years and years and we get to hear a little bit about that story and we get to kind of just talk and just have conversations, which is the basis for this. Some episodes will go one direction, some episodes will go another. Sometimes we'll be focusing on people we think are fascinating, like Kyrie. Sometimes we'll be talking about topics in landmark events.
I think this is a mix of all of that. You know, Kyrie tells us in this first hour, he tells us that spin move that we're still geeky about that you got front row seats for you.
We talk about game seven.
We talk about Cobh throughout. How could you not? I think it's a perfect starting point for us, for what we're trying to do here with the board room podcast network and our partnership with Cadence Thirteen with our vision is for the ETCs and its own thing. It's own separate entity. I think there's no more perfect starting point than what we have right here.
So I'm excited for people to hear.
It is most definitely so. Yeah. Without further ado, man, let's get to Chi. Let's hear about what he thought when you jump to the ops.
Also, let's hear about how he feels. The difference between New York basketball and Jersey basketball was probably the most important thing that I wanted to hear from the source himself, because you hear from the New York side is different from the Jersey side. So I'm excited about that conversation for sure. Yeah. Kyrie definitely stakes his claim as a New York legend, whether they want to give them that. And I said yes. Yes. Fascinating point. So let's get the car man.
Let's hear what he's got to say.
OK, you got to do like you've got to get a man's resume when you when you introduce them.
Yeah, I didn't know if he wanted any titles on them, so we can definitely read down the resume.
We can say, like the ellis' handle that's ever had grabbed a basketball and bounced it on the ground.
One of the few people who could say he's hit a Game seven game winner in the finals, one of the best signature shoe lines in Nike history, six time All-Star, two time all NBA NBA champion. Welcome Kyrie Irving to the show.
Appreciate you guys. So I wanted to I wanted to kind of start from the beginning, man, like.
The origin of discovery of a human being and why you decided to choose this particular art form book Origins may well, you know, unfortunately, I lost my mom at a young age, so my dad took me and my sister, you know, just in his in his protection. And I was following a superhero. My dad was a superhero for me growing up. And his sacrifices and what he did throughout his life and his journey really inspired me to want to aspire to be a better man than he was.
And he made sure of it. And just like my sister, she she was raised as a queen. You know, we were taught from a young age that we were royalty, you know, and that anything we put our minds to, we can achieve. So, you know, my dad loves to tell the story, but I was I think I was 14 months. I was in the hospital and, you know, I just dribbling a basketball at 14 months.
And I don't know how many other 14 month year olds will can attest to that story.
But my dad loves to say, like the doctors, you know, told me to keep dribbling.
Like my dad was like stop dribbling in the hospital, subtable in hospital and like, no, let him go. Let him dribble as much as possible, dribble as much as possible.
And over time, you know, just being around the game with my dad, that's what it felt like initially was just a game. The origins of why I chose this art form. It changes over time and the evolution of who I became as a young man into an old man now being a kid. But yeah, no, it was a game at first. Mean, I used to go to my dad's. You know, we can powwows with his boys a little hanging out.
I met a couple drunks, too, so I know how those were.
I mean, it's where they grew up, which is Mitchem Projects in the Bronx, New York. And that's really where the origins of my dad start is in those building, 16 j six kids living in there. You know just how rich we haven't.
We had enough to get by. Everybody was staying over at our house and we had three bedrooms, very small and cramped, but we made the best out of it. And when I say we just you know, my ass, you know, my family that came before me and they were always around the game of basketball as well. And they saw my dad develop. So when he had me, it was like, ah, when I could teach all the things that I wanted to do as a basketball player to my son.
You know, my sister was beautiful, queen, creative, but beyond anyone's measure. But me, he was like, yo, I want to take this game and I want to teach it to you. And as probably when I got to be like five or six years old, you know, my dad was outside with me in the gym and he was like, I'll give you one of his secrets.
He was always he was always giving me secrets to stay ahead of my generation. There is a really minified five year olds, six year olds that Atlanta with their left hand, you know, so I was at five years old. I'm on a fast break.
And, you know, most five year olds are going to dribble all the way from the left side, all the way to the right side, just to make sure that, you know, I mean, they're going to do they're going to do a whole like like you just go with your legs.
I was five, six. And then from that point on, basketball felt like it was. A classic every weekend, like it was a crowd, it was, you know, the refs were and they they were record high level basketball. We were like six and seven playing in New York in the boroughs and parents on the side arguing. And, you know, basketball became more than a game at that point. When you see investment of time, of teaching, of coaching, of mentorship, of older relationships, resources, you know, my uncle Rod Strickland, as a kid, I was around the game, but it became more than a game in an art form around like seven.
Mm. So you spoke on having your father's influence and also one of his best, best friends being Rod Strickland. And the legend is that you took from both of their games.
What was their relationship like coming up and how did they compete with each other in the Bronx coming up as well?
Well, I mean, they were they were basically building mates, you know, all my uncles or my godfather or my godfather.
So I say because I have that they all had something to do, you know, being a counselor to me as I've gotten older.
But Schoeman, those dudes I know, they went at it. And when I asked them stories about, you know, who was better, it's always they're always pumping each other up. You know, your dad was really, really good, really, really great player. And then, of course, Malcorra has the resume, you know, but what I had a chance to do was be taught by my dad, you know? And I also saw him play often.
And this was in his later years of his life, which was 30, 40 on set. I say like after his prime, you know, where he was trying to still find competition, enjoy and playing and competitive basketball, knowing that, you know, he could have played in the NBA. I genuinely believe that because he is the best player I've seen other than coach, you know, like that, that growing up I knew that no one else was going to take that stand.
But my Uncle Rod only got to see highlights of him. I never really got to sit down and ask him questions and study him and observe and us work out together to an extent where we had that bond of teacher student, you know, now it is becoming that more that I'm older. But as a kid, it was just my dad. I had a few coaches around Jersey in New York, but he really kept me insulated to just be taught the game fundamentally.
You know, I would I was crafton away hours in the gym before I was going to tournaments. You know, me and my dad were getting up, you know, five hundred shots when I was eight years old, nine years old, 50 a spot, you know, just and just keeping track of perfection or chasing perfection. We're chasing him craft in a way. And so I think between those two, I had a great mix, you know, being able to observe from afar with my Uncle Rod and then also being up close to my dad as a teacher.
Cos I'm always wonder about you trying to, like, figure out the enigma that is chiri right from afar, having your dad, having your Uncle Rod, having your dad play pro. And obviously Uncle Rod had a long NBA career.
At what point did you look at them, see what they do, see what you're doing with ball? And it it's been like a dream and being more like I could do this. Matter of fact, I'm going to do it, you know what I mean? Like, what did you make that transition from between that being some some long fabo something that seemed too far away to, like, not actually go broke, actually do this.
Man, I'll be honest with you, I. I saw maybe. I say after eighth grade and I started to get a little bit more athletic and, you know, I know kids don't find it funny, but I was always, always make up my size. When I have my little girl, because I only grew. Not everybody can go from six, two to six and seven in summertime and have to be like I went from five, seven, five, six to like five nine.
And in those communities I became a little bit more athletic. And my dad came home from work one day and he was like, when you go to the bathroom, I show you this one movement and perfected it. I perfected it. But you don't, Raakhee, like, he has the angles and he has all these things on the rim. I'm going to show you something. So he came home, he was in a suit and he showed me, you go with the right and you finish with the left, but you use your right side of your body against taller defenders and use the rim as protection in order to extend to be able to finish.
So you know that that summer going into my freshman year, I started sitting on the wall, start doing a bunch of catchphrases. But more importantly, I was playing all the time. Like before it was how I play on weekends, play travel, basketball, work out with my dad. But this time this summer, I was playing every day and I had bad games, good games, all an array of things. But I really didn't care because I was in New York City playing against presses all the time, which is New York City.
You circuit, I guess I got so tired. I got so tired of playing presses in New York City, chose Metro Hell all the same guys.
I just press the whole game Doda idea of pressing Kyrie in his hand. It is insane to me. Like, why would you think they would. Do you think that's OK. Yeah.
Learn very quick in New York City or in D.C. or just in those like hood environments where you're in the trenches like people don't know about that, about being a kid and psychologically getting ready for that on a Friday night, Saturday weekend game, you know what I mean? Like that intensity swings games.
And at that level, you know, it takes kids off the court. Yeah, for sure. So after eighth grade, I grew a little and then I came back in my freshman year and I got off a scholarship, a partial scholarship, athletic scholarship to Montclair Kimberle Academy, which was, you know, top three academic school in New Jersey. So I had a chance to go there and it was just different. And I'm playing against, you know, suburban league getting forties and fifties.
Easy second option to the.
Yeah, basketball is a first offense to me after eighth grade, like it was nothing else. It was just that in school happened to be something I did on for a social life. You know, basketball was everything I thought about during the day. It was everything I wanted to be because of all the great heroes I saw before me, whether it be kid in Jersey, a CO, even guys in the high school class watching kids as you grew older.
I grew with OJ Mayo. I grew with Greg Oden. I grew with Kevin Durant. I grew with Kevin Love. I grew at a cow singler.
I grew announcement even though they were forty three years older than me, are four years older than me. It inspired inspired me to want to go and get MVP of McDonald's, to want to go to Jordan Brand to know that. All right. If I get the same accomplishments as these guys, I put myself in better position. And by buy time, the end of my junior year, I had a lot of those trajectories of getting those accomplishments. I was like, man, I can go pro like I think I can go pro straight out of high school if you ask me a little too fall at this point.
But I figure it out like throw me out there with some pros and I figure something out. So and then the confidence is, well, follow suit.
Did it help to have your uncle in your pops right there to be like. Nah, like this is doable. Like I'm training with them and playing with them. This is this is something I can actually do.
Yeah. So but part of that evolution I failed to mention was going from Mike. I went to St. Pat's and it was like not playing with the suburban guys had basketball is just a second option. And, you know, their parents are sending them to school for strictly an education and trade specific jobs, lawyers, accountants, financial managers into like entrepreneurs or educators, all that. And then going to St. Pat's, it was turning the whole level up on if this is your dream, then know that there are more people.
In your competitive pool, like you now, you know, we had Dexter Strickland and Michael Kidd Gilchrist, we had Para's Bennett, we had a few other guys that were local around Jersey that were well known and the competition level, it made me hungrier because you're going into practice every day. People get thrown against the wall. You know, it's old school basketball coaches aren't calling fouls. You got Kentucky. Do you see UCLA sitting in the middle of Elizabeth, New Jersey, just coming to see a bunch of young black African-Americans play the game that they love?
You know what I mean? At a very, very high level and a small Catholic gym. And that's when I knew the things were a little bit different. Mike, we had a huge gym, small crowd at St. Pass. We had a small Catholic gym that we practiced in. And it made us tougher and almost like it's almost like, all right, you want this dream? This is where you got to go first. You've got to make it out of here and make it out of there.
Really put that hunger in my belly. So any time I went against anybody I knew the foundation that came from it was kill or be killed or eat or bear. And I always call it a shark shark world in our profession because you have to see and have that mindset to want to destroy and conquer the other person. That's the way I was taught is nothing personal. It's just that's embedded in my DNA from going through experiences like that.
Your style of play, what people would say, mimics a New York style of play. But would you say New Jersey has its own distinct style?
That's a whole that's a whole conversation, especially in that area.
So would you say Jersey had this specific style of play as opposed to New York?
I'm not going to make it just a what's the best coast, but I know the East Coast itself was fully represented and who and where I'm from and what I experienced coming from Jersey to New York. New York didn't want to claim me as I was older, you know what I mean? It was one of those things where you're not part of the what is the NYC High School League? You've got Lincoln Tsushima in high school. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
It's putit. New York is a little bit different. The teams are all over. New York is huge in Jersey coming over. It's a stigma you solve is how you live in the burbs. You live in Jersey, you live in a garden state. You only shoot like we're going to we're going to make sure we run you out of the gym if you're a Jersey team.
And it was that type of attitude that was like a chip on my shoulder right there. OK, and as I got older then it was all guys from the Bronx. And yeah, my family is from the Bronx. You know, now I'm like part of the New York City conversation. Who's the greatest to come out of? And I'm like, yo, listen, I just wanted to put in my time to make sure that I was the best player on the floor every time you saw me play.
If I wasn't, then on that day, hey, I may not be on your list, but when you saw me play in New York, New Jersey, D.C., North Carolina, Miami, anywhere else, I was like, yo, in New York.
That's just not like you.
You got to be ready for that. That's a different type of excitement, anxiety for some people going out, playing in the parks, in translating that attitude was like New York versus New Jersey all star game. My senior year, I walk into the locker room.
It's a true story. We all get that a lot of those all star game. And this is what I knew. I was just like I kind of eclipsed where I even saw myself was in this New York City, New Jersey all star game. And I grew up with everybody playing in that game. And I'm sitting there and I come in. Usually I come in. I used to try to fit in with everybody. You know what? Everybody was good.
Good was good at that point. I'm eighteen.
I'm top three in the country. I just committed to do I got everything I want at this point in my life of just being secure basketball wise. I get stressed across from everybody.
I'm like and what we could do in this situation. I got my shoes on, you know?
And then I hear whispers and they're like, yo, who's going to who's going over there? Who are in?
Who's got him over there? And I looked up and I was like, Yeah, mother. Yeah. I remember all those times they tried to bully me. They tried to run the origin. They tried to tell me good enough to play in New York and, oh, go back to Jersey because I used to bring a lot of my Jersey friends to play in New York and sometimes we got smacked up.
So those guys that I grew up with, like your car just came out of nowhere.
You know, I was like, no, I remember all those times. That's good fun.
But so, like you say, I feel like some of your earliest story is being told time and time again.
And, you know, we had we'd make you tell it again. Anyway, it's a great story.
But I'm very curious because I feel like you're one of the most visible and and appreciated superstars in the league right now. But I don't feel like I know anything about you right now. Like, what do you listen to? What do you do?
What happens when Kyrie wakes up on a Thursday? In a Thursday morning and doesn't had nothing on the schedule, like what are you doing right now? Honestly, that's that's not the first time that I've heard that. And honestly, I tell you, I grew up in this business very differently than everyone else where my foundation is. I'm I'm home most of the time. I'm either reading books, watching documentaries, chillin at home, conversing with some family.
And my life has shifted. You know, I've been out and visible at a certain time as a young man and I've been in front of the cameras. You know, you could go back and watch a lot of the past history of videos, whether it be some of the brand partnerships I've had or even some of the mistakes I've made in my life publicly or the media following every single word and hanging on every single word. And it becomes, you know, the narrative or the picture of me.
And it's like I never want to go out and fight against a system such as that in this business that I know doesn't serve me internally, you know what I mean? So when I express myself creatively or artistically, that's basketball. I'm in a meditative state. When I'm out there playing, you know, I feel like there isn't much that I can get to me when I'm in that when I'm in that mode, you know, whether it's I'm playing well, I'm playing, but it's it's such a sacred place for me.
And when I come out into the world as chi or it's just a human being, I don't want to be that person that puts on that cap on the court.
You know, I'm I'm I'm me in terms of how I live my life and whether I choose to invite people into it, that's up to me.
I serve God first and foremost in order to serve others. And God has blessed me with this unbelievable creative expression of art to be able to bring people together and congregate and watch someone on the TV screen that know that I know I'm pure based upon what I give myself to and what I pray to. But I can't tell you that I want to be like all the people that came before me, either of just being out and about like that, that life doesn't it is so it's so fleeting, you know what I mean?
I'll explain in some of those words and how to sum it up without chopping up. You know how I feel about changing the world, but it's like basketball is a small part of me and. Trying to resolve world issues through basketball, it doesn't always work that way. I mean, people you entertain when you put that camera in front of your face and you're on these big time CORBA, they just want to see you entertain, entertain and dance and dance, OK?
Yeah, dance. But off the court, when we're talking about people getting murdered and killed in the streets, are you still going to sit down and listen? Do you still want to know about our intellect and who we are as people other than being basketball players? Because the narrative has is that they're allowed or when I say they're the powers that exist that write all this shit and, you know, it's always misinterpreted.
I speak place of, you know, spiritual warfare and trying to make a change in that to bring people together. I know that me, me being on the court brings people together. So when I'm on that platform or stage, I want to make sure I have something concrete to say. And when I leave that game, that I'm still leaving my legacy on life.
You have this where not you, but you guys have a weird dynamic where we've essentially watched both of you and all of your peers grow up. We all know, like, we weren't the same guy, we weren't the same guy at 18 that we are at twenty eight, thirty one.
And, you know, and it's like people don't want to afford you that growth, like people expect you to be twenty one year old Kyrie in in that vision of what they had of you at that time. And, and then when you grow it's like you've changed or you're weird or you're this and it's, it's a really weird dynamic. And on top of that people just only see you as your profession. Like if I get on Twitter tomorrow and say, Yo, I'm playing Tony Hawk, this is dope, people are going to go we'll get back on the computer.
You need to you need to write some shit.
They're going to go. Oh, yeah. Like they're going to interact like, no, I like that. I like that level.
Woodwell and but you it's like if you're doing anything that is outside of basketball and people have this concept where you can only be in the gym, it's like not Kairys should be working on his left right now. You should you shouldn't be out. You should be out donating money to these causes. You shouldn't be doing these things. You should be working on your free throws.
You missed that one on that other game. I watched you and you ruined it. Like it's this really weird concept of you guys that people have. And I know Kevin, we've laughed about it a lot.
And that's kind of it's kind of one of the first things we connected on was like, yeah, you're an actual you're an actual human. You do other things besides shootable.
It's weird is weird because when you started to and you started to develop the game and understand our form and and use it in a you know, in a meditative state, you know, you start to realize that you're bigger than just a sport as well. And you can and then there's more to is more size to you than what you do on the basketball floor.
Although you present such a you give off such a such amazing, you know, energy by being on the floor to everybody who's watching who to everybody who's at the game, to people you interact with. But sometimes you forget to realize that is much more than this. And we can get we talked about this before.
Would you get wrapped up in a bubble so much and forget about reality when you feel like when you feel like it was a shift, when you start to see both in balance, both because you still want to be great in one area, but you still also realize that there's a second there's another part of you as well.
It's only natural as you grow and you become more will travel as you guys, as your job affords you, has to be and just meet more people, do more things that, oh, you're going to take interest in other things.
And like I said, it's crazy to me that you are not allowed that latitude.
You know, when when you when you set up an office or your business in New York, people are going, oh, but you play in Golden State, like go to the gym.
It's like, oh, like I got to go, you know? And it's just crazy to me. And as I'm sure I was that fan when I was younger, too.
But as I grew older, as I meet guys like you, it's like we really got this really warped idea of what these guys are and what they can do, what they should be allowed to do. It's it blows my mind, really. Now, there are more ways to be a team with Microsoft teams bring everyone together in one space with the new virtual room, collaborate life drawing, sharing and building ideas with everyone on the same page. It makes you more.
Your team is seen and heard with up to 49 people on screen at once. Learn more about all the newest team features at Microsoft dot com slash teams. So kind of coming into the league, you spoke about Kobe earlier, you guys had such a relationship that was growing on and off the floor every single day, more so as a mentor off the floor and more like a coach on the floor. Explain our relationship a little bit more, man.
Well, shoot like well, let's start in the origins of that stuff.
Yeah. So when did when did it start? Because I remember you I remember you going that Kobe when we were in Team USA in 2012 when I called I was going to YouTube.
I don't know that. I don't remember that. I remember hearing about how I got a little reach in there, but I was just along the side. It was more so James Harden and Kobe.
But some of that smoke man, that famous like spin move and, you know, eight to one lenzen, I thought I had to swipe, but that's when I realized you were different.
Well, so twic well, I get invited to Team USA. I played on Team USA in 2010 and Coach K told me maybe two thousand nine. I thought about it. It's like I'll tie it into me and coach because I met in my rookie year and we played against each other. But I didn't talk to him. I didn't get a chance to speak to him. But Coach Coach wanted me to play for Team USA and I was trying to play for Australia in twenty nine.
I didn't know that. OK, yeah, I was trying to play for Australia. Twenty nine. We were going to take it to court and Coach K called me like, what do you think you're doing. And I was like ok, ok. Yeah I got you back because joining the Australian national team at that point I could have been on the world championship team a lot sooner, been able to play against Team USA in the 2012 Olympics, playing with Patty Mills, you know, Aron Baynes, Andrew Bogut and Ben Simmons was young at that time too.
But twenty twelve I get invited Team USA and we're on the team. Gab knows what this team is really about, the union side, Jim, until we're ready to come beat up on you. We're basically the beat up crew. We're going to clean up crude as you just go in there, you know, obstinate jerseys. And the idea is that we are supposed to get a Team USA ready to play against these other national teams. So we go, I'm coming off Rookie of the Year, by the way.
I thought I'd mention that and went on after practice.
You remember everybody used to split up into groups. And this is when I realized that I had no idea about getting older in the NBA until now. Cole didn't get extra work after like much in terms of when the select team was there. And we were there because I know everybody was just now getting back into shape. So I go over to CoLab, Kolbe's about to get ice from the trainer. What's up? Is a sharp jaw short?
Yeah. So he's over there about to give ice to cold. When I walk over there and my heart's pounding, like, I don't know a lot about it and I'm about to go talk to.
On this beach, one on one, bro, and I practiced the line in my head, like when I get a one on one, I practiced in the mirror before I got there.
And I'm like, I'll go straight up by Yoko. And that could be one on one, honestly, like, we should get this one on one game. Honestly, I think you can't guard me. You know, I got a little after that.
I didn't plan and then do Blue Planet was right there and they just captured the whole thing, the exchange. And I realized that, you know, Cobh also had an aura about him at this time that, you know, if you were around him, like he gravitated towards the real ones, you know, and he would have a conversation with the real people and he would address you in a respectful manner as long as you gave him that same respect and you showed no fear.
You know what I mean? Almost like to the point where he knows he's Kobe Bryant. I know he's Kobe Bryant, but that, like, this is competition. This is fine. This is this is a game for us learning from the greatest to play. And through my optics, through my education, when I had that conversation with him, I found out after he passed that he went back and he went in the Chinese restaurant. The Asian restaurant.
Was it a and a win, right? Yeah. Yeah, right. When you walk in.
So he was in there and he was talking to his team, his business and his team around him. He was like, man, this more than ever, little kid. Kyrie, come up to me. You got to talk to me like because mind you, any other situation coach would have just wrapped up the shoes. But I think he also had a mutual respect for me at that point early on in my life where I was like, yo, you know what, fifty thousand next year, let's do it.
We never got a chance to play. But after that point, I just studied him a lot more. You know, my respect grew. He just told me I was doing great things that Team USA to keep it up. You know, I talked with Kelly, even though we talked in pocket sometimes I was really just trying to fit in more than anything, because just like you came when you came in, you were a young guy with the older guys that were already great in their prime 07, 08.
And there was a different, you know, Mount Rushmore at that point. And now twenty twelve, you're at the top of the amount of carbon your face bronze up there. Twenty four coming off the NBA championship. Kolbe's coming off having 2011, 2012 when back to back championships. So the respect level was at an all time high and that that's something that I always appreciated about the NBA and heard about it. It was a brotherhood like that, you know, but I didn't know that we could have access to code like that.
I just kind of went on a whim and just like tough talk doesn't because we always heard, like, your coach is this cold. Is that from the media? Same situation that we're sometimes in. I'm just like people badgering who he is as a person. And you sit down and talk with him. And this is like this dude is the most fiercest warrior looking person that I've ever been around in.
You know, the person he's the same way. And I could respect somebody like that. Also, at the root of it, the foundation.
What I loved about that man was how he took care of his family. So all basketball, this kid aside and now grown up into a man, that's what I appreciate more, is how he took care of his family and then how he went about his business.
So y'all never played one on one at all. You never got a workout in. None of that. So two thousand fifteen. We have dinner in Newport before the Lakers game, and it's the last game to him and Bron are playing his last game. I'm playing against him as well. Is that Staples? We're having some we're having some back and some on the night before the game.
We're over and he's over. You're telling me like yo warriors boy and boy stuff. And Clay, that team over there is bad boys. It's twenty fifteen and I look straight in the eyes. I say we can beat them, we can beat them. We are going to beat them. And you know Coach Handy's right there next to me and we're just sitting there talking and Kobe's asking me about some of the players in the league who I see coming up and that year end up getting hurt in the finals.
So before I even got hurt, I was calling him about how did he deal with injury. And he gave me some of the most Kobe responses of, you know, block it out mentally, psychologically, don't worry about the injury, worry about the game. And he just really kept me together mentally during that time because I couldn't really do anything about my knee at that time in the playoffs. And that dude was just always one text and one phone call away, like at all times at any time in the night.
And, you know, even if he got back to me in three or four days, same thing I do. The people he did to me, I was like, yeah, like I get. I get know, trying to be there and be a mentor, you know, I wanted him to be. That mentor for me, which he was in in ideology and philosophy, but because I couldn't be around him, I had to study him as almost you study somebody you know from afar, that's great.
And they just leave breadcrumbs for you. So 20, 15 on, I felt like he was preparing me for what was to come. And then 12, 16 when twenty seventeen we lose to kids in the finals. I ask for trade. You know, it's one of the biggest breakups other than Russ and Katie and me and Brian and TMac and it's harder and we can think of all. By the way, I realized that all of these NBA breakups that they make a big deal of has happened in history.
You know what I mean? Like, it's the first aid. It it's not it's not new at all. These dudes against each other because they're the two best players and, you know, so and in twenty eighteen, he told me he was like, yo, Boston is a great situation for you. You know, I'm happy that you went to a historical franchise that's about winning. You know, he was really happy for me. And then twenty eighteen I get hurt are young guys lead us to the Eastern Conference finals and then twenty eighteen.
I'm asking on texting back and forth like how do I, how do I get this group to gel, you know, how do I get this group to really come together and. I I feel like I didn't have enough time to inject that type of overall energy that I was that I was feeling, you know what I mean? Because it was the first time that life became bigger than basketball for me in twenty nineteen. You know, like before it was kind of a ball was everything else was supplemented from it.
And then twenty nineteen and I lost my grandfather. Life became way more important than basketball. So anything I was doing in basketball, I didn't really care. You know, I don't really care how I was perceived. I didn't really care what was going on in terms of deals over here or issues over here within trying to mend relationships. And I'm like free. I got my own stuff to figure out. My family's fractured right now and I'm trying to put together a fractured team.
So I took that responsibility. But I also know we learned a lot from that. And then twenty twenty or twenty nineteen, you know. We unveil one of the biggest surprise bulls in NBA history so far.
Yes, especially after the all star game video where they caught us all the way. That's when it was that's when it was solidified that we were going somewhere. They didn't know for a fact where it was, but it was somewhere. But that leads me to our relationship and how that grew over time and evolved over time, because you want to tell how it really happened.
I don't want you to get fined for tampering, but I do want to hear the real story, like the actual story.
So me and Corey have a mutual friend and Jeff Rogers who worked at Nike and was our grassroots guy guys when we went to Nike camps and we had Nike events as grassroots players, high school players, these guys were their supporters. We had and teams was sponsored by Nike. So we were kind of getting integrated into the family. So some of the same guys that, you know, I came up on to Corey came up under two, so. Over time, once car got into the league, Jeff just happened to toss on a text one night and we end up playing.
We were playing the Cavs. This is a rookie year. And me, I'm looking at it like, oh, yeah, we're number one team in the West. We're playing against a shitty Cavs team. This is all I was thinking. And this is before I seen that, I've really seen the light on Kyrie Irving.
I really seen it, you know, so I'm thinking we're playing against a city team and I get a text from Jeff and it was just straight up serious.
I'm joking around and it's just another game.
And I was just so locked in and was, it was almost like, you know, we're going to see tomorrow, you know, it wasn't like, what's up, little bro, big bro.
It was like, oh, I'm going see what's up tomorrow. And I'll tell you how he was feeling approaching approaching that game.
But I had no clue that how serious he took that game until we started our relationship started to grow. So that's where it started. For me, that's a big matter for you, right.
As a rookie, he's seen Rusty KD like I got a chance to prove it.
Exactly. Absolutely. Absolutely. I always felt like that because it was what was in my DNA. You know, I knew that you always told me you better get somebody going to get you to come out here.
Everybody comfier. Not you, but yeah. No, my I would say the synergy I mean meaning like how connected I Delta K has been before then, you know what I mean. It was like I knew about his story way before I made it to the NBA and I followed him because I knew that something special was going to happen for the next few years. You know what I mean? Like you can tell, like it's not so many people that I know that have, you know, mini series and mini series.
But your YouTube video, I used to watch the YouTube videos and they took, you know, kind of like a in person front camera. I think you were at Montrose and I just remembered as a senior skinny kid with a big oversized hoodie.
And you were talking about until I was a kid, Manziel was like, yeah, it was hot here.
I remember that video. I want to say it was a I think it was a ball his life. Yeah, I remember that.
I remember that with all this heck out there, they came up the and I was in jeans. Yeah. Yeah. That was one oh oh six to run up the hill. And I remember the Barry Farms aspect of it as well, you know, welcome to the big show. He's on his team. Welcome to is him. Be out there and they're playing a grown man. And there's not too many there's not too many of my peers that I know that grew up like that, where they grew up outside playing against older men and grew around the game in the culture.
And they also were dominating their peer group. Know you like that? That's right. That's what I feel like makes the the mark of someone great is they could do it on all walks. You know, when he was six years old, I'm pretty sure you're playing is twenty seven twenty eight year olds and you're making it look easy, you know, going to pick up game. So I was like, if I can be like that. Similar to that.
OK, let me follow this. This guy goes to Texas, not all places like, yo, what is in Texas, but I'm thinking about it.
I'm thinking about your team, though. Your team was good at your team, was good. You had you had something in mind that year. You've seen what I was doing. You had six days with the strap over the 90s. And and Jeff Rogers, also our mutual friend, used to tell me about and I think he had like such a compelling journey. You know, when I say compelling means go through so much of life that almost you hide things that you've been through through the game itself, you know, and sometimes life is so painful as far as those journeys that won't become pros.
And we become these guys. We never forget it. So I felt connected to that right from the beginning as a kid. And now I get a chance to be twenty eight and he's thirty two to be able to absorb as much information as a little brother because I saw him as competition for the last nine years or eight years. So it wasn't much that I wanted to connected him to. I was like bro whatever bro. Like why would you go to Golden State now you're about to make this even harder journey for us.
And I'm like, let me just get these two chips back up step play Draymond we going. We're going to shut them up one more time.
And then you came on that team and what I admired was that's what greatness is is how do you elevate those around you and to take that on and be with other great players and to exist. That's like being at the top of Mount Everest with other great talents that you know, can survive the journey. You know, I've been with thirty something league players. I've had five head coaches. I had a multitude of teammates. But when you get a chance to synergize with other smart high basketball IQ players, it makes coming to work that much easier.
You don't have to answer questions about, oh, well, who's going to be great tonight? And it's all on you. And then when it comes to the highest level of competition, you rise above everyone else. That's what I know about greatness. I don't see it as, oh, you're going to join all this hoopla that I felt like I had to sit back and observe. And just like, you know, why would this even be a conversation for true basketball culture?
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There's a really weird idea of like how a star should grow in the league, and a big part of that idea is you basically got to be on a shitty team and make that shitty team not shitty anymore.
And I don't understand, like people will say stuff like what would happen if Steph was on the Hornets. And I'm like, why would we want him on the Hornets? Why don't we want the very best setup for the very best talents?
And that's kind of why I am a CD. Now, as somebody who was rooting for you, Ambron, I did the same thing as you like. Come on.
Like we wanted to see them running back. I go, do we do it. But yeah. Yeah but but but I do understand what you're getting at.
Like you had a chance to be at this level of greatness and surrounded by this other level of greatness. We wouldn't want like we wouldn't look at like Leo and be like, nah, don't work with Scorsese. That's stupid. We will do as many movies with him as you can do because we want to see the best movies you can make. So Pascal has this weird, like cultural idea of how you are supposed to go.
And I blame Jordan for all of this because he did do that.
And like he became the Templestowe like testament to his greatness.
Obviously, he did that need six or six. The whole nine.
He knows. But you all had to follow in your footsteps. And it's like, I don't think we're doing this right. You know, it's like we made a car. If you made a Ferrari, you wouldn't put it like a Corolla engine in like, let's see how fast this car can get. You know what? Me.
So I'm with you there. It took me a while, but I'm with you there now.
As far as that goes, it takes miles it takes miles off your body as well, playing with, you know, like other great players and great people. You know, it's just such a lot easier. Style of basketball is like Katyal's. Kati's on my wing. OK, OK.
Every time down the block it swings again. All right.
So that's some of the thought process towards you all coming together. Like when did that become a conversation between the two of you? Like, Oh, we should we should play together because I imagine it like I know people make it like this devious thing. You are at the all star game like, nah, let's get them, you know, but I imagine it's similar to Canada shooting. The shit is like, oh, we should probably work on something like if we're going to do all this shit together.
Yeah, it was definitely that simple. I felt and I thought I felt the relationship grew just off a straight up respect before we even started having conversations.
It was just a respect for who he is as a man and that mutual respect for how we came up as as men and our journeys to this point. And then once we start to kick in and talk about what we like to do outside of the game and who our family started, I mean, it just became easy, you know, and we obviously the common ground is how we hope and how we love the game of basketball. But it just branched off from there and we started to every day or face time.
What you think about this shot, what you think about this move that I did in this game, how about, you know you know, when Brad take you out with six minutes to go in the first quarter, you know what you're going to do, how you approach the game coming back, like we had these type of conversations all day, every day and.
It just it grew from there, it just grew from there, man, it was organic, you know, and it wasn't something that you can kind of pinpoint to say like this was the moment. It just it just happened.
And from that point and from that point, I feel like we pushed each other, that we we took the power back and put it in our hands as well. I enjoyed the journey up until this point, but at the same time, doing it with a family member, not just a friend, you know, somebody that you just you kick it with. And, yeah, let's go home today. And you see them only at the arena. And it's like, nah, we yeah, we have our way of living life.
But like I said, the synergy is is connected to who we are as people first. And then the respect of what we do on the court as artists comes out in the way we play and we look at it as like match up, we're playing pickup and on time. And I I'm glad I got that guy on my team right there going at each other, though. We're going at each other. We're playing one on one. And I think I've always wanted that as just having somebody to push me at all times, whether it be we're off on the court talking about entrepreneurship or business and what we want to do as partners or collaborations or designs.
And then on the court know, what do you think about this pro? Like, what do you. And he asked me questions about things I'm thinking because I know he studied as much as me as I study of him, you know. So I think to bring that together is like we want to see the level we can get to now, sharing it with a person that we believe in as well as other people. But it started with us being at the foundation and I accept him for who he is.
So I was always going to jump out and protect that first and foremost and same way.
When you mention playing each other, I've heard a little bit her job and working a little bit. Now, I've heard one side of the story. Who's winning these games? Who's winning these ones?
Who's winning? Yeah, when you applied and, you know, working out what was going on here, it was going on these days. What are you telling people, bro? I'm not telling people anything. I just want to know what you about to say because I was waiting on your answer.
It's been even I've had good days.
You had good days even. I wouldn't I wouldn't say you've had good days. I'm left out of there happy on top of Mt. Everest. Feeling like, yo, I got a good day. I got the best out of Kevin Durant I could go into.
Why is one thing like, yo, I beat Jones when he said, you know, I mean, I've been on that day. I could scribble that in.
Yo, you might.
I mean, better than I was. Better than you. All right.
So see, that's the type of conversations we go we can go on for hours about what moves I used on him that day, but I felt the same way you felt every day walking out the gym. So I guess that's a good thing that we both feel good.
Yeah, it's got to take your word for it, I guess. I don't know who I think I got, like, if I guess the dribble much as he wants, you know, he might be he might be at that rim.
First, I love having the ball handling title. We're like top of the OT. Your handle is crazy. I'm just like, oh listen, I can get anywhere on one dribble. I can get anywhere with no dribbles. My footwork matches up with my ball handling, which is why I think the difference between watching somebody that has a nice handle between somebody that has a great movement pattern, my movements match my handle. So I'm I'm must speak about this because I think young kids, when they watch, they're like, yo, I want to have handles like Kyrie.
I want to have hands like this. I want to finish like chi, I want to do it. I'm like, bro, listen, let's go. Excuse me King.
Queen, let me address you like this. You pick up the game, the intangibles come with your mind training. I figured out that I'm more effective with both my hands working simultaneously and my feet working simultaneously than just being able to just move somebody with my shoulders, with my head, with my eyes. I added all that to make a complete package that I have now to be able to spend on my left foot on a spin drive where most people don't expect the right to spin back, lift a practice going on the baseline, two foot jumping, fading right or fading left.
These are amounts of reps that I take and practice fades, fading out, fading from the baseline and shooting over taller defenders because that's what I go against. I don't want to stay in one spot and triple, double, triple, double, double, triple. Even when I do that, I'm conscious that I've dribble too frickin much. In today's age, we always think I give it to a guy on the wing and he's the top player. If he can break down as man every single time now is how efficient are you in every situation that you have the ball and you don't have the ball?
I'm like, that was the way I was taught. Now the entertainer in me comes out when you see it on TV and you see all of these. Oh my goodness. Because that's what is part of it. That's part of the culture of watching it on TV. You want to see these nice passes, you want to see these no look passes. You want to see behind the back. You want to see somebody do something out early. So I go home and work on that creativity and imagination to be able to do it in fast paced tempo movements, not, oh, I'm going to work on my game for thirty minutes and some of my hands, like know the flow of the ball moves as my body moves and my mind is trained to be able to do that in every situation and then to dribble to a shot.
That's a split second decision to be able to pick up the ball off of a bounce off your left hand and shoot it. Not many people can do that comfortably, you know, so I'm always trying to think about mastering those things and trying to do it in a new creative way.
And if it happens to be something like, oh, that was a crazy move, a cool like, you know what I mean? That baseline move that I had on Steph and Golden State when I dropped it, you know, it's crazy.
It's definitely got to ask about that. Oh, no, no, no.
I practiced that plenty of times. Hefe jab, hefe jab, drop, drop it again and shake like without touching the ball. So you drop it in front of you, but you spin it so you catch it with your left hand, you spin it. I say when I dropped it and caught it with my left hand and spun and then I fade and it's Al-Qadi on the baseline. Yeah.
Can I tell you what I was thinking on that play. Yeah. Please tell us so. So when Steph when you get stuff out on the wing like all of us just think we're going to give him shade a little bit of help, you know, because, you know, obviously we don't want that matchup as much.
So I'm going over there thinking that, you know, stuff is kind of forcing you to me.
So I'm I'm just going to wait for my side to paint. And then when you have spin, I'm like, perfect. All I got to do is step over it, just another step.
And then when you see me a split second, you poured in and I couldn't even I couldn't even think about going to contest. It was so quick, you know, because I'm like, shit, I'm over here, but I should go help.
But when you when you came out, this is see me out the corner, your IronPort, that's that reaction that it's it's the split second reaction that separates the good from great, in my opinion.
And that's what I call genius. And I know that we have experts and people that observe the game. But as a person that just watches, as a fan, as an observer, as a critic, you know, as a student, as a teacher like you, we got to give that credit in those split seconds. That's what's the difference between that? I saw you coming over baseline. Oh, I got to drop this quick and I shot it quick.
I shot it quick. I didn't follow through because I'm like, man coming over with his length. If he would have kept coming in double, I have been done. That was my plan.
Oh, it's coming all the way. So, you know, that was my plan to come home.
I go you can see, you can see Kevin hesitate like the slightest second, like almost like he got caught off guard like yo what did he did he double like one of these just do right now.
And then the shots, it's like, well he hid the ball when he when he hit the ball. When you turned your back, it's kind of like, yo, is he still traveling to go to Steph Tippit? And then you come out of nowhere with the shot. That was that was just an incredible move. But that's that spoke to like seeing stuff like this up close and like we talked about in Team USA, that jibla display you put on against us and then you see the reverse layups in numerous games.
It always takes me back to the amount of time and effort it really takes and the consistency that you have, like talk about your consistency, wanting to get up every single day and perfect that crowd, because that's a different level, a different mentality. You have to approach every single night when you go to sleep and when you wake up in the morning. Yeah. Well, now, I think the attitude and the mentality is you you still want to work hard and you still want to put in your time, but you want to work smarter and more efficiently because going to the gym for three hours at this point, you know, it helps in certain aspects.
But it also, you know, in terms of becoming a master or becoming a perfect dad or chasing this profession more or less, you want to keep the whole nuance of the game perfect. And I mean, like this is I want to use my tools better. And I mean, if I know that, I won't be six, seven ever. So I got some of the things that I do well, I want to do even greater. So I think that I attribute the attribute that mentality not only to seeing other great players work on their craft, but also keeping in mind the great players that could have been even greater.
Might they put more time in and continue in that trajectory or continue in that journey to becoming better? And I don't know what becoming better looks like for anyone else except for me. And I think I don't want to compare it to anyone else's journey either, because I know it's meant for me to share that greatness, not only with myself, but with others. Now, you know, before I used to be like, let me get as many points, let me get as many assists as I can.
And now it's like I want to bring a championship with my family to Brooklyn, New Jersey, New York, New Jersey, D.C. and then we have the biggest parade ever, because I know standing on that platform with everything that's going on in the world, if I'm going to be dedicating my time to this craft and also dedicating myself to advancing and progressing our race, our spiritual agenda, you know, and knowing that I can be committed to becoming a scholar as well rather than playing ball.
Ball is is also, like I said, that meditative state. But life has its its course as well. You know who I am. And what I represent is far bigger than the game. But if we're going to be doing it. I'm going to do it as a masterful, you know, like performance work on it, and I got it. I have to spend my time in the gym every single day or on days where I know it's going to serve me at the highest level, you know, and yeah, we train so much, you know, like my routine has changed so much now that I've gotten old.
I'm heading into year 10. Year X is crazy to think I have ten years in the league. I'm going on my tenth year and I know when you hit your tenth year, I know you were thinking the same thing.
Know, it's like when you turn 30 in real life, it's like damn in ten years, you know. So yeah. So that's a huge thing.
And I'm a lady, I'm pushing 30.
It's crazy because we think a car is such a young player even still in. Yeah. Ten years.
It's like, oh you really been at this for a while. So I want to get into some of the off the court stuff I want to do. Give me some of the great work you've done. Before we do that, I have to ask some questions like as a fan, because I'll never get the chance to ask you this stuff again at the Game seven, the story that you face time.
Call me immediately. That's true. Yes. What was the thought process there like you did, you know beforehand?
Like I'm calling Kobe, so if we win, I'm calling Kobe.
Nah, I didn't know beforehand that I was going to call him, but I knew we were going to win. Right.
I didn't know how how I was going to go, but I knew we were going to win just because of the way we were playing at that time. I felt like we were the better team. We were a lot more healthy as healthy going into game seven as well. But after we won that game, I tell you, it took it took a lot out of me, man like to isolate myself from the world. And that's what I felt like I had to do in order to lock in to be perfect every possession and it's championship level environment because it demanded it going against these great legendary performances when you guys had to be yo, honestly, I was so angry after that game, man, because I felt like I wasn't angry at the win, like the win or the celebration.
I just had to go into a place in order to. It was like I had to go into almost like a my spiritual and almost like it was look like I had to go in, so I had to go into that place and we won and we won. It was like the war is over. Like it was almost like. Oven been going home, sharpening my tools every single I've been on the verge of climate, getting 50 hundred feet in up and do an extra push ups, you know, I'll be going to sleep early.
I'm a meditating. I'm in on everything hitting. And I, I was so separated from my family certain extent so afterwards. Call and call was like, oh, we won or we did it. I hug my dad, I hug my sister, I gave my dad my jersey and he was like my dad was like it was wrong. And I was like, Dad, there's no more games.
I was angry at, you know what I mean? Because it's like you want to. And I played.
Two days after the championship and a pickup, I was still so connected to the game, it was like I still want to play at the high level. I didn't want I wanted to. So that whole summer, I took that same mentality and I took it in twenty seventeen. I want to be better than I was in twenty sixteen. I had my career high averaging points, you know, I did everything right. I felt like to be up there all NBA.
We come in second place, we're not as connected as a team in Cleveland. And so I go back to even that phone call and it was like going to that place. I did it alone, you know, I wanted to do it with my teammates. And this is what I look forward to now, is teaching them about that place to go to, but doing it more as a team. We all had our own routines that we did to get into that locked in place.
But twenty, seventeen when we were playing as the Cavs, you know, we're playing with when I was playing with the Cavs. It was that it wasn't as connected, you know, in twenty sixteen we had we were a crowd of twenty seventeen. I wanted to be better man. I was like, oh times sixteen. I got that down. Seventeen, I want to go crazy. And Kobe literally from that point after I called him, it was him and Jeezy by the way and easy smiling like congrats guy.
Congrats. I'm so proud of you. And Kobe's like I'm so proud of you and I'm surprised you even answer the FaceTime call because I know he hates me.
So what are you you guys going to huddle with the seconds to go?
And he basically decides like, all right, we can get the ball car.
We spaced out, get a screen trying to take Steph.
What do you think it is? It's like you locked in, but like what is going through your head?
Same attitude I have now that I had even one up. And I'll go back to the example against Kay, but we were playing as Kay is like forty seconds left and it's something probably three possessions left in the game and I know that. And so does K, just like he did to us when he came down. The breaker is a three pointer.
You can, it's just, you know, especially a pull up or something of a tough three pointer that ends up going down like the moralizers. The other team comes down, he gets that three I like we mentally we're like games are like, you know what I mean? And then when I get Steph on that right wing, I'm thinking. I'm going to get to my bread and butter spot, I know that I've shot over a taller defender, so he really has a small chance of blocking the shot in this three pointer is just going to take the energy out of this whole building.
And they're going to have to rush because, you know, they didn't have to take a three at the end of the game. They could have easily to, you know, and it would have been another possession game. When I took that shot, Roy, like, took it raised up, make sure my elbow was pointed. You know, throughout that season, I asked Kolb, like, what it was one thing that you always remember when you're shooting tough phase.
And he said, I always keep my right elbow pointed at the rim and it went in boom. They call timeout and then we love to that stop. And then I push down this.
I want to ask about this, like, what? Would you do it. Oh, so, so. And the frame of the game, the most unexpected plays down the stretch. I hold on to I'm like, all right, well they're going to think. They're going to think that we're going to bring it out, we're going to hold they're going to double us. They're going to give it to somebody that we don't want to shoot in a free throw and they're going to foul.
But if we can get this quick, too, we'll go up five games over over games. Over games.
Finito. So I race I, I give a change of speed. The clay I drop by clay. I know Brian's coming. I see him. I'm like, this is about Brian is about to me. So I pass it to Brian. Dre grabs his whole arm, this is the dunk.
And then he falls on his wrist and he's like oh my wrist, my wrist, my wrist. Like Yo at this point we only need one free throw one and the game's over. So he misses the first, then he makes the second and then was just like one stop. That was it. Most bases the last three point of the season and then we win. It is like I'm celebrating with Coach Handey on the floor and we're yelling and screaming, bro.
And it was the greatest moment until, you know, I was like I came back to reality and I was like, there's no more games. Man, so this conversation was so good, it went so long that we had to split this up into two parts, second part coming out later in the week, we talked about first playing against each other, Team USA, our relationship as teammates, brothers, everything. So part two coming out later in the week.
Stay tuned. Yeah. And like we said at the top is convo went so long, it's crazy. We asked them for what? Forty five minutes and then we got them on the line for two and a half, almost three hours and we could have went to three more.
An incredible, incredible I've heard these stories. But to hear him, especially as he continues to keep growing as a player to him each and every year, because these stories change, man, these perspectives change, you know, as you grow. So so continue to hear those stories, man. And to see it from his view was definitely incredible. I'm excited for people here. Episode two, I don't want to step on this one, but I think that one might be even better.
So comment listen, subscribe all of that good stuff. We'll be back later this week.
Episode two Kyrie Irving as the host. Yes. Or.