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Kyrie Irving talks about Kobe Bryant as a leader, mentor and a friend

Detroit Pistons v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Kyrie Irving stood with his team before Wednesday’s matchup against the Detroit Pistons. Nothing but silence, and eyes on the scoreboard to honor Kobe and Gianna Bryant, who died in a helicopter accident on Sunday. Irving had tears in his eyes and running down his cheek, trying to hold the emotions in after losing his friend, his mentor.

He spoke to reporters about his relationship with Kobe after a 125-115 win over the Detroit Pistons. He scored 20 points and dished out five assists. But the story: His relationship with Kobe.

“I asked him for help 4-5 years ago. I asked him for help and I don’t think I was ready to be a mentee at that point. Some ancient texts say when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. I had that type of mentorship, relationship, with him where I was able to ask him anything no matter how nervous or how fearful I was. He was just easy to approach with those type of questions about what goes on in day in and day out basis of chasing something bigger than yourself.”

He touched on Kobe’s greatness and how he separated himself from things that are bigger — creating a legacy and being one of the greatest to ever do it. Not to mention, the next chapter in his life, coaching his daughter GiGi and helping empower young women to chase their dreams.

“You’re trying to build a legacy or leave a mark on a game, there’s going to come a lot of sacrifices, there’s going to come a lot of heat, come a lot of love, come a lot of balance that you must create in your life. He left a lot of teachings, a lot of breadcrumbs I call them, and I just followed all of them. I followed every single one of them. That probably pays a lot of focus into the person I am today. He’s really just listening, asking questions, what he was doing and what he was creating; then also his daughter GiGi and him opening up doors and opportunities in sports.”

Irving discussed how he was somebody who saw what Kobe did with his life, his structure, his family and his game, and how he wanted to emulate it. He wanted to be Kobe.

“I saw what he was creating, and I knew that I wanted that same structure. He had his own company, his own belief system, he had his own principals that he lived by, he didn’t give a fuck about what anybody said. I think having that type of strength, that type of leader of the movement, so many people wanted to follow.

And, he touched on the “Young Mambas” out there, wanting to be like Kobe. He spoke about the advice Kobe would give — and it wasn’t some nonsensical answer. He emphasized how Kobe knew how to get that greatness out of you.

When someone would ask him a question, ‘How do you do it Kobe? How do you do it? How are you so great? How do you do this?’ Some of the Young Mambas out there trying to emulate what he was doing. Some people would text him about ‘Hey what about this shooting slump?’ and he would say stuff like, ‘The best shot is the next shot. Figure it out. Fuck ‘em all.’ Simple things but it was what he helped you see inside yourself, always. It wasn’t the words he said, it was always something there inside of you that you knew was there, but you had to tap into it. And he tapped into it all the time. He was just that type of teacher. I’m glad he’s getting his just due in his legacy now more than ever, you don’t ever have to worry about anyone not being on Kobe’s side. I’ve been on Kobe’s side.”

“I’ve been on Kobe’s side.”

And he always will be.

Here’s the video...