Kyrie Irving was compared to Kobe Bryant but what does he think?
High praise for the Nets point guard, but given that the Lakers legend was in fact his mentor, could it get any better?
With his name still being mentioned in connection with a possible trade, it’s not suprising that the Lakers coaching staff would talk about him, but is comparing him to the ‘Black Mamba’ going too far?
Lakers coach compares Kyrie Irving to Kobe Bryant
With the NBA offseason now in full swing, every day brings with it a whole host of rumors, rumblings and soundbites, but even so, Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Phil Handy had to have turned heads earlier this week, when he compared Brooklyn Nets star guard Kyrie Irving to the late and most definitely revered Kobe Bryant. In an interview with Bleacher Report, Handy spoke of both Bryant and Irving’s skillsets and indeed, was not coy when he said, “If Kyrie was 6′6, you would see Kobe mirrored back at you.”
Quite a compliment it must be said and even more so, when considering the controversy that has surrounded Irving of late. From his refusal to be vaccinated which resulted in a plethora of missed games, to his standoff with the franchise over a potential move, Irving has occupied many headlines of late and for the wrong reasons. Bryant on the other hand, can considered one of the greatest ever in NBA history not just because of his on-court exploits, but because of his consummate professionalism off the court as well. Bryant was in fact the very definition of ‘team first’ and it is perhaps for that reason alone, that he endeared himself to many the world over. None the less, it should be said - in Irving’s defense - that the star guard has made clear his intentions to stay and win with Brooklyn, regardless of what his want away teammate Kevin Durant wants to do.
What does Kyrie Irving think of Kobe Bryant?
Mentor, friend, GOAT, these are some of the words that you’re likely to hear if you ask Irving for his thoughts on the late Lakers legend. Indeed, as much as Irving is a lethal shooter in his own right, who has a habit of displacing the bigger boys in the paint en route to the basket, he makes no secret of his admiration for the Mamba’s game. Speaking in a recent interview, Irving left no doubt as to who he believes is the greatest and moreover why. Recollecting a dinner that he had with Bryant, the Nets star explained his opinion:
“...He said, ‘Nah man, I think Golden State is going to win the championship this year’. And you know, you have a few responses that you could get back at the greatest to play this game. By the way, when I say ‘greatest to play the game’, it doesn’t mean I’m knocking everybody else. The greatest to play the game to me, I don’t give a f**k, I don’t care about your stats, I don’t f***ing care. The greatest to play the game to me...” Interestingly, Irving would go on to prove Bryant wrong - at least once - when he and his Cavs managed to overcome the Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals. Incidentally, Irving cites Bryant’s tutorship during that campaign as one of the main reasons why he played the way he did.
What next for Kyrie Irving?
As mentioned above, there has been a stand-off between Irving and the Nets and with his teammates Kevin Durant requesting a trade, the water has now become even murkier. That being said, Irving has since made it clear that he would like to continue in Brooklyn regardless of what his friend and teammate does. The question that remains, is will the Nets maintain a player who was deemed ‘unreliable’ in the past campaign, should his friend - who they wanted to keep satisfied with his presence - finally get the trade that he so desires?