Kyrie Irving forced his way out of Cleveland last offseason and watched LeBron James defeat his Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals this year, but he certainly hasn’t lost sight of James’ greatness. Speaking on Hot 97 on Wednesday morning, Irving advocated for James as the “NBA MVP” and James Harden, who won the award, as the “people’s MVP.”
Kyrie Irving says LeBron James is the NBA's MVP. 😳👑🍀 pic.twitter.com/bphiex4PxG
— Cavs Nation (@CavsNationNet) June 27, 2018
Irving: ‘The NBA MVP was definitely [LeBron James]’
Irving, who missed the end of the regular season and the entire playoffs due to a knee issue, was candid in discussing the MVP race with the Hot 97 crew, saying he was happy for Harden and that the meaning of MVP is sometimes difficult to determine.
I was happy for [Harden]. I didn’t vote. MVP is hard to gauge nowadays because now you have the people’s MVP and the NBA’s MVP. I think the people’s MVP was definitely James [Harden] but the NBA MVP was definitely ‘Bron. I mean if we’re talking strictly based off stats, he checks off every box… He’s incredible.
Of course, James and Irving experienced some major success in Cleveland, including three straight NBA Finals appearances and one championship in 2016. But it wasn’t always smooth sailing with James leading the team, and Irving was traded to Boston, where he could be the lead man, last year.
Irving doesn’t like the James-Michael Jordan comparisons
When pressed on whether James had reached Michael Jordan status, Irving simply said “Nah.” But then the 26-year-old clarified his thoughts:
I would say that he’s in his own way… All those comparisons are fun to talk about. It’s how intense it gets… I hope that some individuals see, when they’re watching the games, just the appreciation for what’s happening. Like if someone is playing extremely well, and it’s just like comparisons… Shout out to my man [Boston head coach] Brad Stevens on this. He told me, ‘Comparison is the thief of joy.’ And that right there was one of the most profound things I’ve ever heard.
Irving is loving Boston and especially the Celtics fans
Irving averaged 24.4 points on a career-high 49.1 percent shooting from the field in his debut campaign in Boston, which was cut to just 60 games due to knee problems. It wasn’t the only injury issue the Celtics dealt with this season: Several key players missed significant stretches, and star free agent acquisition Gordon Hayward was lost for the season just minutes into the season opener. Irving said not being able to play against James in the Eastern Conference finals was frustrating:
“That moment in itself was frustrating, but it was a culmination of a lot of different things,” Irving said. “I didn’t play the last 20 games of the season, and then going into the playoffs, our team just did an unbelievable job.”
He added he was impressed by the young players on his team — such as Jayson Tatum, Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown — and said taking James and the Cavaliers to seven games “is an accomplishment in itself.”
Irving also admitted there are bigger things on the horizon for one of the league’s top young squads and that he’s enjoying basketball in Beantown. “Going to Boston, really intimate environment, it almost reminds me of going back to college… Just seeing all those legends on the wall every single day is a constant reminder of where you are. And I appreciated that.”
Irving’s ‘Uncle Drew’ movie hits theaters July 29
Irving will star alongside other NBA stars — both present and past — in ‘Uncle Drew.’ Irving plays the lead character, and being on the movie tour is just a small part of what will be a busy summer. Irving is still rehabbing from his knee issues, and the Celtics have very high hopes this coming year given their impressive postseason display this spring.
Irving also discussed his move from Cleveland, acting and much more in the full interview:
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