Just days after the Cleveland Cavaliers lost in five games to the Golden State Warriors in the 2017 NBA Finals, Kyrie Irving found out that he might get traded to the Phoenix Suns, according to Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post. The news led Irving to reach out to the only former player who could provide him with the right Mamba mentality for a situation like this one: Kobe Bryant.
"He was one of the guys that I reached out to," Irving said. "Not necessarily to gauge his thoughts on the decision, or to give me the okay, but it was for some clarity and also what the next steps going forward [would be]." Even though Bryant played his entire career with the Los Angeles Lakers, Kyrie knew that Kobe could offer up some advice on how to deal with playing for a team that struggled to win games.
"Because there was some chance I was going to maybe be in Phoenix, or maybe in situations where the environment hadn’t been winning for a while, and Kobe dealt with that in 2005-06, and that was tough," he said. "So I had to ask him, and gauge him about that."
According to the Washington Post article, Irving admired Kobe not only for his basketball expertise, but also because Kobe was the only one determining his own professional fate. "Despite what was going on from the outside influences and what everyone else felt was best for him, [Bryant] always did what was best for his career for himself," Irving said.
When it was all said and done, Irving ended up playing for the Boston Celtics, and the five-time NBA All-Star says Kobe couldn't be more happy for him. "But after the fact, after everything happened, he was just super proud, and super happy," Kyrie admits.