Kobe Bryant has had an impact on Kyrie Irving’s career dating back to his early days with the Cleveland Cavaliers, but what would the Los Angeles Lakers legend tell Irving as he rides the rollercoaster that is the 2018-19 Boston Celtics?
Bryant expanded on their relationship and what advice he currently would give Irving in an exclusive “Town Hall” with Sirius XM’s NBA Radio on Thursday.
“The next move for (Irving) is figuring out how to get the most out of the pieces around him,” said Bryant. “That’s really hard. And understanding how do you find an emotional connection with each player, figure out what their fears are, and help turn those fears into strengths. And to do that you have to put time in and I don’t mean time in the gym. I mean time listening. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Talking to guys, listening to what they’re saying.”
When asked when that happened for him, Bryant responded by saying it was after losing to the Celtics in the NBA Finals.
“After we lost to the Celtics,” Bryant answered. “Because Michael told me the same thing. He said, ‘Listen, you have all the individual tools. Now you have to figure out how to connect with each one of those guys and bring the best out of those guys. It’s not about just passing them the ball and saying that’s what makes guys better. That’s not it. You have to figure out how to touch the right buttons to make them want to be the best versions of themselves. How do you do that?’ And that was my challenge in ’09 and 2010, I was able to figure it out. And that’s what Kyrie has to figure out.”
Irving has been very open about going through the learning process of becoming a leader in the Celtics’ locker room, and it remains a work in progress. But Bryant’s words of wisdom on Thursday serve as a great guide for Irving’s approach.