Kyrie Irving’s time as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers was filled with ups and downs.
On one hand, he did help bring an NBA championship to the city. That alone etches his name into the record books.
On the other, his prima donna ways led to the Cavaliers breaking up a lot sooner than they probably should have.
This week Irving spoke to the media and took a very reflective tone when looking back on his time as a Cav.
Kyrie Irving on returning to Cleveland: “The amount of pressure I was putting on myself coming in after the prodigal son, LeBron James, leaves, and I had to take on the ropes after that. Who knows if I was ever going to live up to that billing. But I put that pressure on myself.” pic.twitter.com/ytnF3Ca1ci
— HoopsHype (@hoopshype) December 27, 2022
“I had my first and only draft workout here,” Irving said of Cleveland.
“The amount of pressure I was putting on myself coming in after the prodigal son, LeBron James, leaves, and I had to take on the ropes after that. Who knows if I was ever going to live up to that billing? I put that pressure on myself to fill some shoes that were never meant for me.
“I just wanted to create my own legacy. In order to do that, I had to endure some rough years where we only has a few thousand people in the stands. I was feeling, at times, going home like a lone ranger or a superhero trying to bring Cleveland back to the top.”
All of that being said, Irving learned a lot on his journey.
“I think the greatest lesson I learned throughout that process was it’s not a lonely road you’re supposed to take on your own,” he said.
“It takes a lot of help and we had a heck of a team here that is forever sketched in NBA history. No matter what they say about me or anybody else, they have to talk about that team. They try to isolate me and say ‘Kyrie, what have you done since you left here?’
“It takes a great team to do something special, and I understand that. I don’t take this moment that I’m at right now for granted because it took all those times from me being here in Cleveland in order to achieve something special.”
And while Irving maintains that he is happy with the Nets now, he hasn’t forgotten about his time in Cleveland. Nor does he take it for granted.
“Cleveland is never in the rearview, but it is definitely something I look back on to remember what it took to be a champion and how many years I had to endure (expletive) and dealing with all of this and what comes with it and people doubting,” Irving added.
“That’s what makes me great, just continuing to focus on what I do best and letting my play speak for itself.”
Chiefs are playing at a Super Bowl level both on and off the field. https://t.co/GxLyIXF1Wv
— Game 7 (@game7__) December 29, 2022
Irving is one of the greatest NBA players of all time. Nobody can take that away from him. And a big part of why his legacy is what it is can be traced directly to the pivotal role he played in bringing a title to Cleveland.
That said, things didn’t end well between him and the Cavaliers. And while that divorce obviously wasn’t as bad as the one the had with the Boston Celtics, it was still pretty bad.
Time will tell how Cleveland ultimately looks back on Irving’s legacy, but based on his most recent comments, Irving still seems very fond of the Cavaliers.