Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward Talk Trade, LeBron James at Celtics Presser

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistSeptember 1, 2017

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 01:  Kyrie Irving #11 and Gordon Hayward #20 hold up their jesrseys as they are introduced as the newest members of the Boston Celtics at TD Gardens on September 1, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)
Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

Following the finalization of their trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Boston Celtics introduced Kyrie Irving and free-agent acquisition Gordon Hayward in a highly anticipated press conference Friday.

Sporting News tweeted the following photo of Irving and Hayward holding up their Celtics jerseys for the first time:

Sporting News @sportingnews

Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward show off their new Celtics unis 👀 https://t.co/NUvuR0z9xk

Hayward signed with Boston in July to rejoin his former collegiate head coach at Butler in Brad Stevens, while the deal for Irving was finalized Wednesday.

In that trade, the Celtics sent guard Isaiah Thomas, forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic, the Brooklyn Nets' unprotected 2018 first-round draft pick and a second-round pick to Cleveland.

Irving was asked extensively Friday about whether things soured in Cleveland and why he felt a trade was in his best interest.

According to Ben Axelrod of WKYC, Irving confirmed reports that he requested a trade and said, "It's the most human thing I could have done."

Irving also said that leaving Cleveland wasn't a basketball-driven decision, per Kristian Winfield of SBNation.

As seen in the following video courtesy of NBA TV, Kyrie further discussed why he felt Boston was a better fit for him moving forward:


"To be in a place where everyone gravitates to us as a team... I just wanted to be a part of that." -Kyrie on move to Boston https://t.co/hNQGkI4AfB

According to Adam Kaufman of WBZ Sports Radio, Irving said he feels the Celtics offer him the best opportunity for growth: "My intent is to be happy and be with a group of individuals I can grow with. That's not a knock on [Cleveland]."

While Kyrie didn't confirm or deny reports of his wanting to step outside the shadow of LeBron James had contributed to his trade request, he did say the following about team basketball, per Marc D'Amico of the Celtics' official website: "Is there ever such a thing as one person carrying a team? I don't think so."

With regard to James, Irving said he hasn't talked to him since reports of a trade request first became public.

Even so, Kyrie heaped praise on LeBron and talked about what it meant to be his teammate for three years:


Kyrie Irving discusses his relationship with LeBron James... MORE on #GameTime - Tonight at 12:30am ET on NBA TV! https://t.co/2wAcBWipXV

According to Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal, the four-time All-Star felt he received an education playing alongside James: "I learned so much from that guy. I had an opportunity to play with one of the greats. It was awesome."

While Stevens' presence was an obvious draw for Hayward, Irving confirmed that playing in Stevens' system contributed to his wanting to join the team as well, per Brian Robb of Boston Sports Journal.

Hayward also mentioned his reasons for signing in Boston, which included Stevens, the history of the organization and the city itself:


Gordon Hayward on why he chose Boston... NOW on NBA TV! https://t.co/pNDwEupwRr

In perhaps the funniest part of the press conference, Irving and Hayward talked about their prior relationship.

Specifically, Hayward said he visited the Cavs when he was a restricted free agent and was recruited by Irving.

Hayward then said LeBron's return to Cleveland "squashed" that possibility, which led to laughter from Kyrie and the rest of those in the room, as seen in this video:

Irving and Hayward are now officially teammates, joining a team that finished as the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference last season.

The Celtics return just four players from that team, but with Irving, Hayward, Al Horford, rookie Jayson Tatum and others in place, Boston hopes to be the team to beat in the East.


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