Kyrie Irving said Wednesday night he called LeBron James after last Saturday’s frustrating loss in Orlando to apologize for how he acted as a young player in Cleveland.
“I had to call ‘Bron, and tell him I apologize for being that young player that wanted everything at his fingertips,” Irving said after the Celtics beat the Toronto Raptors 118-107 on Wednesday night. “I wanted to be the guy that led us to a championship. I wanted to be the leader. I wanted to be all that.”
Irving admitted he “should have kept it in house” when criticizing his younger teammates after the loss to the Magic.
Kyrie on calling LeBron: “The responsibility of being the best in the world and leading your team is something that is not meant for many people. … Only few are meant for it, or chosen for it, and I feel like the best person to call was him."
— Chris Forsberg (@ChrisForsberg_) January 17, 2019
“I did a poor job of setting an example for these young guys what it’s like to get something out of your teammates,” he said. “Going forward, I want to test these young guys, but I can’t do it publicly. That was a learning experience for me, realizing the magnitude of my voice and what I mean to these guys.”
And that also made him realize that he owed James an apology for bristling when the star returned from Miami to a Cleveland team that Irving had come to think of as his own.
“He’s been in this situation, been there with me, where I’ve been the young guy, been the 22-year-old kid, wanting everything, wanting everything right now,” Irving said.
“The responsibility of being the best player in the world and leading a team is something that’s not meant for many people. And ‘Bron was one of those guys that came to Cleveland and tried to really show us what it’s like to win a championship. And it was hard for him. Sometimes getting the most out of the group is not the easiest thing in the world. Fewer are meant for it or chosen for it. And I felt like the best person to call was him.”
Irving finished with 27 points last night and was clutch down the stretch for the Celtics, who snapped a five-game losing streak.
Returning after missing the last game with a bruised right leg, Irving scored 10 points and dished six of his career-high 18 assists in the fourth quarter — including passes to set up Boston’s last three baskets in a 17-4 closing run.
“The last three minutes of the game got away from us,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said.
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Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.