Kyrie Irving spoke to the media on Monday for her introductory press conference with the Dallas Mavericks. He made his first appearance on Thursday and scored a team-high 24 points after joining the team in a trade with the Brooklyn Nets. As the Mavericks had three straight games, Monday night was their Dallas opener.
The eight-time All-Star sat down with general manager Nico Harrison and Markieff Morris, who was also part of the Nets trade. He addressed questions about what he can bring to the team with All-Star Luka Dončić and how he deals with criticism.
“It’s an honor to be here, grateful to be here, sharing space with you all here,” he said to open his first response before explaining how he appreciated how the Mavericks said they wanted him to be himself.
“‘Look forward to the team we’re developing and just take chances. Take one day at a time, there’s no rush here. We’re not putting too much pressure on you. There’s no pressure on the team to say. When we come in every day, we just want that you guys be consistent,'” he shared about the advice he received. “So that was music to my ears.”
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Kyrie Irving Connection With Mavericks GM Nico Harrison
Irving cited his already established relationship with Harrison as an added incentive for joining the Mavericks. The two worked together when Harrison was at Nike. He spent 19 years with the athletic company, ending his time as Vice President of North American Basketball Operations before joining the Mavericks in June 2021. Irving signed with Nike as a rookie in 2011. his contract in December after he endorsed an anti-semetic film and initially refused to apologize.
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“I don’t see any risk involved. I’ve known Kyrie a long time. I know his essence. I know the kind of person he is,” Harrison said in making the deal to bring Irving to Dallas. “I think anyone who has seen him play basketball knows what kind of basketball player he is. So I don’t see any risk. I actually see the risk of not playing.”
“Touche,” Irving said with a smile.
“I’m grateful for our enduring relationship and knowing my family so well. Now it’s just me going out and proving that to my teammates and doing what I do and controlling what I can control.”
How Kyrie Irving deals with criticism
Something Irving can’t control is how people perceive him. Harrison stood firm on his decision to bring the point guard to Dallas, but questions persisted over Irving’s controversial comments.
“Oh man, I would love to be liked by everyone. Oh man, the world would be so perfect for me,” Irving said with a sigh and a laugh. “It’s not that. I don’t think it’s anyone in this room. I think we have family that we don’t necessarily get along with all the time, friends that we don’t necessarily talk to every day. But the genuine love that you have in your heart is the only thing you can really control.”
Irving admitted that he was “rambunctious” in his 20s and asked a lot of questions about life and the world around him. He has said that being in the spotlight as a teenager put a lot of pressure on him at a young age and he has grown to focus on his family and see a purpose greater than basketball.
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“I have an open dialogue with everyone who spends time with me, wants to talk, wants to ask me questions. I just think that if you try to get to know me within this workspace and expect me to be there all the time and say the right things and do the right things right, it’s not something you can really expect from anyone. I’m just not a perfect robot who can go around giving all the right answers all the time or trying to be something someone else wants me to be.
“But I think what I’ve learned is just to focus on the people around me and the people who really celebrate me. Everyone who has things to say about me, what I would say to them is, ‘I wish you nothing but the best. and I wish you and your family all the best.’ But I have a life to live and kids to raise, so I don’t have the energy to sit back and focus on things I can’t control about how people think about me.”
Kyrie Irving on playing with Luka Dončić
When asked about playing with fellow All-Star Luka Dončić, Irving made it clear that every member of the team is valuable, but said he was looking forward to succeeding with a player of Dončić’s caliber.
“When you’re playing with someone who has the consistency to score the ball, play and really challenge the defense to make adjustments like Luka, then obviously we’re a force to be reckoned with,” he said. “If we’re pick-and-rolling, or if we’re making plays against each other, then I think that’s the exciting future I see with him.”
Doubts persist over whether Irving can play off the ball, which he did with LeBron James and others. Irving pointed out that Dončić might be the one who hasn’t had that experience, but he will play his style of the ball no matter what.
“I don’t know what the misconception is as to whether or not I can play with the ball, but every time I set foot in there I have the chance to really prove to myself that I can play anyone and everyone and still be efficient and be myself,” he said.
Kyrie Irving asks not to be asked about her future
Irving joined the Mavericks in his final season on a four-year deal. If Dallas decides not to give him an extension, he will become a free agent. Irving was asked what he would like to see in the franchise to be convinced to stay and asked not to be asked about its future.
“I would love to have your respect and everyone else’s respect for the rest of the season just asking myself that over and over because it just puts unwarranted distractions on us and our team,” he said. “I’ve dealt with this before and it’s emotionally draining to ask questions like ‘What’s the long term? What’s the long term? What is it?'”
Even though he doesn’t want the weight of his future to be placed on him at every press conference, he assures the media that his first impression of Dallas was a positive one.
“There was nothing but a warm hug, nothing but genuine love and nothing but a familiarity of relationships that I could really reach for. In times of questioning or confusion, I can always go to these guys or the ladies in our office or people that have actually become available since I arrived in Dallas, so there’s only one positive note there.
“… And just taking it one day at a time. That’s all I can do in this life and what the future holds is only going to be dictated by what I do now and how I prepare for the next steps and that’s being the best teammate that I can in that locker room, being a great leader here within the Dallas community, within the NBA and just continuing to be myself and developing that team.”
Kyrie Irving hopes to continue following in the footsteps of greats like Dr. J
On a lighter note, Irving was asked about his charisma, specifically how he knows how to dunk gently and not get fouled for hanging off the edge too long.
“I’m an Irving. Don’t you know my uncle? Julius?” he chuckled, referring to Julius Erving after confusing reporters. “You just turn, E to I.”
“… I swear I think we’re a family because obviously I can’t hold the ball like Doc or do anything like that, but there are some nuances of athleticism and things that wow the crowd as an entertainer and entertainer that I believe he was doing before me. So I’m grateful to continue the legacy of many guys who have done otherworldly things with their talent and impressed people for generations. So I don’t take this position for granted and I’m just going to keep working hard and see where I end up in the next couple of years. years and I hope my game is still evolving and you are talking about me in the same way.”