After the Celtics defeated the Mavericks 106-88 in Game 5 of the NBA Finals to capture the 18th title in franchise history, Kyrie Irving made sure to congratulate his former teammates.

“Every series was emotional, just because I was just uncertain on how it was going to go and how we were going to respond to a little adversity,” Irving told reporters, as seen on NBA’s postgame coverage. “We finally ran into a team where they beat us fair and square, and we weren’t able to execute at a high level.

“So, when I was shaking everybody’s hands, that was more of a sign of respect for their journey. They have been through an incredible five-year span of going to Game 7s or losing in the Finals, so they know what this bitter feeling feels like being up here answering questions about when this next year holds, and I think they used everything as motivation.”

Irving said the Celtics are the “perfect example” for the Mavericks going forward.

Story continues below advertisement

“They were healthy, and they really kept their head down and weren’t paying attention to any of the personal accolades or individual accolades,” he said. “I think they just came together as a team and were okay with each person being great in their role and selflessly putting their best foot forward.

“I think we learned more than anything from this series on what it takes to not only get back to this level, but win at this level, and the Celtics are the perfect example for us this season because of how much they have had to deal with in the past few years.”

    What do you think?  Leave a comment.

The 12-year veteran said he plans to take lessons from the failure of losing the NBA Finals to the Celtics and use them to grow next year.

“Failing at this stage definitely sucks,” Irving said. “It’s a bitter feeling because you want to keep playing. You feel like your best game is coming up next. … I’m grateful for the opportunity to be able to grow with these guys in the locker room. Everybody across our organization, we’ve been able to celebrate our losses too and how to grow from that.

Story continues below advertisement

“That’s the difficult part of being human. When you really love something you really want to win, and it doesn’t happen, how do you respond from that? I think that’s where we are now, but I think I could tell you, I’m pretty confident that we’ll be back in the gym pretty soon and getting ready for next year.”

Featured image via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images