Kyrie Irving: “I haven’t been a leader”


Though many yearned for Kyrie Irving to lead an otherwise fledgling franchise through a time of disarray, the two-time NBA All-Star admits that he was anything but.

“Everybody asks me if this is my year to be a leader … I haven’t been so far though, not at all,” Irving said in an interview with Real GM. “I’ve just been a kid trying to figure it out. There’s no perfect way to be a leader, and coming in as a 19-year-old kid and having everything bearing on your shoulders, there are a lot of ups and downs. Now it’s about being the best every single day and not being afraid.

“I’m more than excited with our new veterans. I’m really excited just from the standpoint of how the locker room is going to go and how to really be a professional. I’m not saying that the veterans that we had weren’t professionals themselves, but we didn’t have enough. Given the right and wrong things to do in the league, I’ve had to learn on my own and that’s what some of us been doing.

“Now, we have guys who’ve been in the league for years, guys who’ve won championships and have had to give a piece of their game for the greater good of the team. It’s something I admire and something I’m going to learn from.”

Possessing the ability to manicure box scores and highlight reels by the truck loads, the Cavaliers, and Cleveland, had asked the now-22-year old to be more than a basketball player. As the team was struggling, all focus pointed in the direction of a kid who didn’t appear to have the ability to take a team, put them on his shoulders, and carry them through turbulent times. Good news was that despite all of the losing and poor body language, Irving re-upped with Cleveland to the tune of five years and $90 million.

Now, with a litany of veterans and a head coach who appears ready to run his entire offense through the wildly talented point guard, it appears Irving is finally more comfortable in his role of 1A (or even 1B) behind LeBron James as the team looks to once again rule the Eastern Conference. Admission is the first step.

(Photo: Scott Sargent/WFNY)

  • Willis

    I love the fact that LBJ is back. Having him is going to wake-up the others and get them to buy-into something that is bigger than them. If KI or DW are not pulling their weight, you better believe that LBJ, MM, SM, et al will shove the proverbial boot up their ass.

    How-ev-ah, this is what it takes for KI to be a leader? He could have been a leader the past 2-3 years when the Cavs were in the toilet and they needed someone to rally the troops. I’d rather have someone that was leading the team when they were crap and can carry-that over to now than the opportunist who now can be a leader when it is convenient for them.

  • Harv 21

    This post makes me sad.

  • Horace

    Nice to hear, but at this point, these are just words. I’m expecting a LOT more effort on defense from Kyrie and Dion, along with improved off the ball movement, spot up shooting, and better attitudes. No more bickering like teenage siblings, gentlemen.

    If those two played with the intensity and toughness of Delonte on O and D, they’d each be top 3 at their respective positions. Granted, Delonte had his mental issues, but his on court effort was beyond reproach.

  • eldaveablo

    Being a leader of men (especially at 19) is not something everyone can do right away, and some people are never that person. He was learning as he went while having the weight of the city on his shoulders in the aftermath of LeBron leaving. Not to mention, the team was full of young guys who didn’t know anything, journeymen who weren’t great mentors, and coaches who were mostly clueless. I think you need to be a little more realistic.

    But like you said, having LeBron here is a great way for Kyrie (and K-Love/Dion/Tristan for that matter) to mature and learn from him. Hopefully the influx of veteran leaders will help Kyrie mature.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I must have been watching a different Delonte West because I don’t remember that much intensity and toughness. What I remember was he was a lot better then previous guards with the Cavaliers but that wasn’t saying much when you follow Flip Murray and Larry Hughes.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Pressure is completely off just go out and play KI!

  • Horace

    Yeah, you must’ve been watching the Virginia Cavaliers bc the Delonte that I witnessed was tough on D and played very good man defense while bringing an Artestian intensity to the game. You must’ve forgot what that looked like after watching Kyrie, Dion, Ramon Sessions, etc. over the last 4 years.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Point in fact I didn’t watch many games at all the past four seasons but you can roll with West I’ll still stick with Irving and Waiters.

  • Horace

    Point proven. Go back and watch a highlight (not even a game) from the past 2-3 years and you’ll see Kyrie and Dion’s “effort” on D (which you seem to be defending?).

    Also, please show me where I said I’d take West over those two. Oh wait, I never said that. My point stands: Delonte’s effort on D was better than Kyrie or Dion’s effort on D. Not an earth shattering statement bro.

  • Porck

    We complain when athletes give us cookie cutter scripted “stay on brand” messages. And we get mad when they go off script and give us something honest. Hes a young man who didnt feel confident telling grown men how to act on the court. Made more difficult by his lack of defensive acumen. Hes the best dribbler of a basketball in the game and one of a handfull that are a threat to shoot 50/40/90. Lets give him a chance

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Yea yea yea defense defense defense yawn. Lets see what happens this year bro!

  • horace

    can’t tell if you’re trolling or being serious. if trolling, then congrats, you got me. if being serious, then please don’t respond to my Cavs comments anymore.

  • Jono

    But still. Do you believe you can beat pretty much whole team by yourself. Because being a leader means leading the team. Not being the best player and “carrying the team.” When he says that he wasn’t a leader he means that he didn’t carry the team in a emotional stand-point.

  • Jono

    Hold on let me end your conversation.
    1. Horace, you have bad grammar and spelling.
    2. Delonte plays college. Once you star playing professional your dealing with people possible 5-10 years older then you with WAY more experience.
    3. Horace you are also wrong. Have you ever heard the quote “defense wins games.” If you lockdown the other team and you have bad offense, you could still go on a 10-0 run. If the other team isn’t scoring then all you have to do is at least get to the line, get fouls, and good passing you would be fine.
    4. And at that fact the Cavs have good offense, but there defense needs to step up a little. To be honest I would blame the big men. Most of there opponent’s points come from second chances or they come from the paint. For example Anthony Bennett was expected to be pretty good, but he was very slow didn’t really have very good rebounding skills etc.
    So I hope this cleared things up and I do not expect to have any emails saying that someone replied to this.
    Farewell and Goodbye,
    The Guest

  • Jono

    Sorry on 3. I meant The Real Shamrock and on 2. I meant start playing. Farewell