“Yo honestly, first off fear is not real in my book,” Kyrie Irving told good friend Jeremiah Green in an interview on Instagram Live this week. That may very well be the centerpiece of the far ranging interview.
Green and Irving were teammates at St. Patrick’s High School in Elizabeth, NJ, and good friends. They spoke about a lot of things which were tweeted out and written up by Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson.
Here’s some of the best quotes, first on his heritage as a Nets fan and what he promised himself after attending a Finals game at CAA in fourth grade...
“Being a struggling Nets fan at one point … oh my goodness, bro. All my Jersey people know, before the Nets went to Brooklyn, trying to fill that Continental Airlines Arena up. They were selling three-game packages for like $90. They had, like, the Milwaukee Bucks, the Pacers and the Raptors, and you could get it for, like, $99. And my dad would buy that package of games, and I just remember the smell of popcorn, I remember the seats.
“I went home from that finals game that I went to [with] my dad, we were up in the nosebleeds, bro. I still have the waving white towel from when they were in the finals.”
Then, he said, he scribbled a career ambition on the wall of his closet. “I am going to the NBA!!”
He moved through high school, first at Kimberly School in Montclair, then St. Patrick’s, before spending a year at Duke. As he awaited the 2011 Draft (where he was taken overall No. 1), he worked for the NBA as an intern. He got to know future teammate LeBron James.
“I was actually doing like a little mini internship before I got drafted. I had met Bron around that time, as well as in high school, so we had a close relationship then and it was strictly about transferring knowledge. You know, like what does this level look like for you? And I saw it upclose. I got a chance to see it up close and it inspired me.
“Obviously Miami lost that year, Dallas won on a really really miraculous playoff run. Bron played well, D-Wade played well, it was just very challenging and I learned a lot from that. Then they went on to win back to back championships after that. And you come into the league during that time and they’re just dominating everything. Then you get a chance to play with Bron on that same team? At that level? You better believe if that shot comes to me, I’m going to be ready to take it.”
As for the what some have called the biggest clutch shot in recent NBA history — the dagger that won the Cavaliers the NBA title, Irving said he was well prepared as was his veteran team.
“You try to explain the best way.
“That zone you try to put yourself in when you’re in a moment that you’re playing against the best or you feel challenged the most. Or you have a playoff series where things are very challenging. I don’t think anyone realizes how many things have to go right for you to be on that stage and be successful. It’s a competition, so there’s going to be evenflows of the game and we had a very special team that year.”
“You know, we were older.
“It was 2016, a lot of our veterans were in their 30s or really on the tail end of basketball and that’s all they knew. They knew about the IQ of the game, the appreciation was just different and when I think about fear in that case, I’ve been playing basketball my whole life, it’s not really anything that’s different for me except I gotta make sure that this move works and that I practice it enought times so that it’s part of my game. And I say all of that to say [that] the more you prepare yourself for those type of moments, the better off you’ll be.”
Irving spoke as well about his relationship with Kobe Bryant ... and how he got schooled.
“So that game when we playing against Kobe, I was begging our medical staff to play in that game,” recounts Irving.
“Kobe had 42 points that game and he guaranteed that he was gonna give us 40. So I get it at the top of the key, I hear the crowd and the crowd was like; they’re all erupting silently. They’re like: ‘Oh!’ And everybody starts clapping like: ‘Oh yeah!’ and it’s at the top of the key. Now what does that remind you of?
“Back in the city, back in Jersey, when you get in that moment, this is your time. So I get at the top of the key and I make a move, he stutters for a minute and I spin. When I spun, this dude was waiting for that and he punched that sh**. He punched it, he punched it bro.”
Irving also talked about how much he learned from Bryant and a personal wish...
“At this point, I’m gonna see him. I’m going to play him one on one in Heaven. We good! I’m gonna get him back.”
“Kobe was the essence of seeing somebody there who you couldn’t believe was so smooth and so sharp and sound and fundamental,” said Irving.
“My dad used to pause the games and he used to have me sit there and rewatch Kobe’s footwork and I used to sit back time after time in my computer room and watch Youtube highlights of Kobe and just highlights of him for hours.”
Irving admitted how devastated he was by the death of Bryant and his daughter Gigi and how his first game back, when he scored 54 points, the toughest game of his career.
- How call with Kobe Bryant set up Kyrie Irving’s greatest moment - Brian Lewis - New York Post