Kyrie Irving: I Needed to Apologize to LeBron James 'To Move Forward in My Life'

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 20, 2019

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James, back, talks with Kyrie Irving in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Orlando Magic, Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Tony Dejak/Associated Press

Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving said his January phone conversation with former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate LeBron James was crucial for him "to move forward in my life."

On Wednesday, ESPN provided the comments Irving made to The Jump's Rachel Nichols about his talk with James last month to apologize for the way he handled criticism from him during their time together.

"Apologizing, that was a step for me just to move forward in my life," he said.

Irving sought a trade from the Cavs following the 2016-17 season in part because he wanted to serve as a team's central focus after years of playing second fiddle to James.

The 26-year-old Duke product told reporters in January it wasn't until he arrived to the Boston Celtics and took on more responsibility that he fully understood what LeBron dealt with as a leader:

"Obviously, this was a big deal for me, because I had to call [LeBron] and tell him I apologized for being that young player that wanted everything at his fingertips, and I wanted everything at my threshold. I wanted to be the guy that led us to a championship. I wanted to be the leader. I wanted to be all that, and the responsibility of being the best in the world and leading your team is something that is not meant for many people."

He added: "[LeBron] was one of those guys who came to Cleveland and tried to show us how to win a championship, and it was hard for him, and sometimes getting the most out of the group is not the easiest thing in the world."

Nichols highlighted some of Irving's comments about his work with the Celtics' young players this season:

Boston owns a 37-21 record at the All-Star break, which ranks fourth in the Eastern Conference, despite an up-and-down first half.

James, who left the Cavaliers to join the Los Angeles Lakers as a free agent last summer, said his call with Irving was a "great conversation," per Joe Vardon of The Athletic.

"Yeah, we're in a good place right now," he said. "Me and Kyrie are in a good place right now. I love the man that he's becoming, I love the challenges he's accepted and I always wish the best for him."

James proceeded to select Irving with his second pick in the All-Star Game draft. Team LeBron went on to score a 178-164 comeback victory over Team Giannis on Sunday at Spectrum Center.

The rekindled relationship has even sparked speculation that the Celtics guard could consider teaming back up with James in L.A. as a potential unrestricted free agent this summer.

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