Boston Celtics superstar point guard Kyrie Irving has admitted that it was a huge challenge playing on the same team as LeBron James.
The former Cleveland Cavaliers teammates won a title together in 2016 but Irving asked to leave the following year and was traded to the Celtics, leaving LeBron and Kevin Love to take charge of affairs while he attempted to lead his own group.
James has since left the Cavs, signing a four-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers last summer and his new teammates aren't finding it very easy to play behind him either - although, of course, they'd much rather have him around, judging from what we've seen since he went down injured.
Kyrie Irving on why it’s difficult to play with LeBron James pic.twitter.com/Ldi9F2Sul1— 🌟 LALeBron 🌟 (@LALeBron23) January 10, 2019
Irving spoke to the challenges involved with playing with King James in a recent interview with ESPN and explained that being LeBron's teammate could be quite demanding.
It’s definitely a challenge,” he said. “You now become part of a championship-caliber team based on a unique talent. LeBron is so smart, so talented, such a strong leader. And you’re trying to implement who you are, and grow as a player and learn every single day. And it can be difficult because it demands a lot of you.
“Certain times young players - and even older ones - find it a big transition, because you’re playing a certain way, and growing as a player, and you have a vision of what your career will look like. And then this player of such great stature arrives, and you’re still trying to be great, and he’s already great. And you find yourself asking, ‘OK, what are the steps to get there?’ So now do you learn by example from watching him?
"Do you learn by the way he treats his body? By the way he treats his business off the court? By his philanthropic path? So you just watch and you observe.
“You also have to be aware of the expectations from the outside and how that can infiltrate your thinking. Somehow it ends up where everybody wants to play the blame game when things don’t go right. So it’s just a lot to get used to.
"It comes with a lot of pressures. I believe the very, very special ones, the unique ones, gladly take on that challenge, and they relish it. You can’t be afraid to challenge another great person. That’s how greatness is achieved.
“It was a lot for me to figure out. The belief I have in myself goes way beyond anything that could deter me from what I want to accomplish. You can never ever, ever, ever, ever lose your sense of self while you are playing alongside a great player.”
What This Means
It was previously thought that Kyrie wanted out of Cleveland to get away from LeBron's shadow. But a former teammate, Richard Jefferson, revealed that the Cavs wanted to trade the guard after they lost the 2017 finals as they somehow put the blame on him.
Their first attempt at a trade fell through but Irving wanted nothing to do with the organization after that and demanded an exit.
As for LeBron, he's trying to add to his legacy in L.A. and this season could be a defining one for him and the Lakers, whose youngsters could either be made or broken as a result of them simply being his teammates.