During his days with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Kyrie Irving often reported to LeBron James — the greatest player on Earth. That frustrating hierarchy is why many believe Irving requested a trade from the Cavs.
But now that he’s with the Boston Celtics, Irving appears to be enjoying more mutual relationships, particularly the one he shares with fellow Duke alum Jayson Tatum, Boston’s 19-year-old rookie star.
Bleacher Reports’ Ken Berger published a piece Thursday that explores Irving’s transition into a leadership role with the Celts. The story highlights Boston’s win over the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday, a game punctuated by Tatum’s game-clinching 3-pointer, which was assisted by Irving.
“He better make it,” Irving said about the shot, via Berger. “Wide-open in the corner, rookie or not, you better make the shot. Step into it and shoot it with confidence, and that’s what he’s been doing.”
Irving understandably expects a lot of the highly talented Tatum, and he apparently isn’t shy about advising his teammate during games.
“It’s happened numerous times where we’ve had those in-game talks,” Tatum told Berger.
But Irving clearly doesn’t want to overwhelm Tatum, someone with whom he began connecting before either landed in Boston.
“It was already developing into a brother-brother relationship, and then I ended up getting traded here,” Irving said. “And from that point, it just continued to develop. I give him his space, and he gives me mine. But whenever he needs an ear to lend or that extra push, I’m there.
“I told him from Day 1, ‘No matter what’s going on out here, you can always look to me to exude that confidence in you.’ ”
Tatum doesn’t look like someone who’s lacked confidence in his first NBA season. Still, it doesn’t hurt to have someone with Irving’s pedigree readily available to pump your tires.