The Cleveland Cavaliers won their first ever NBA Championship in 2016 and the man who hit the game-winning shot was point guard Kyrie Irving. It will go down as one of the biggest shots in NBA history and once Kyrie got to the locker room, he FaceTimed one of his mentors, Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.
Kobe and Kyrie first came together in 2012 with the USA Men’s Basketball program as Kobe was on the Olympic team and Kyrie was on the Select Team. Irving made news when he challenged Kobe to a game of one-on-one, and the video went viral.
Despite that, however, Irving considers Kobe a mentor and talked with Kurt Helin of Pro Basketball Talk about admiring Kobe’s mental approach to the game of basketball:
“In terms of a mental approach, as well as some technical stuff about the game, I’ll always go to Kobe, because he’s as polished as they come […] If you’re talking about a who literally just physically imposed himself on the game every single day, and that mindset, oh I definitely going to talk Kobe.”
Irving also reminisced about watching Kobe from afar, and specifically studying his footwork:
“I never got a chance to play with Kobe, I always watched from the outside like everyone else did — and I’ve been watching Kobe for however long,” Irving said. “I mean, me and my dad used to watch Lakers games and I was just specifically watching his footwork. I’m just studying that dude constantly, constantly, constantly. And once he became a mentor of mine, it was just great.”
Irving certainly has some outstanding mentors in his life. Aside from Bryant he also has LeBron James as well as his former college coach, Mike Krzyzewski. Irving has taken things from all three of them and is now one of the best players in the NBA.
Kobe has spoken a number of times about asking all of the legends questions and picking their brains. Now that he is the veteran he has had no problem sharing info with the new generation of NBA stars, and guys like Irving are reaping the benefits of it.