The NBA landscape was dramatically altered last offseason when Kyrie Irving expressed his unhappiness with the Cleveland Cavaliers and demanded a trade from the reigning Eastern Conference champions.
Irving, who spent the first six seasons of his career in Cleveland, desired a change of scenery and no longer wanted to share the spotlight with LeBron James. Irving’s shocking request led to a hectic summer for the Cavaliers, which began with a huge shakeup in their front office.
Now they had to account for consummating a deal on the fly involving one of the brightest stars in the league.
During the lengthy process, Irving contacted Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and received some valuable advice that helped him gain clarity on the situation, via Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post:
“Not necessarily to gauge his thoughts on the decision, or to give me the okay, but it was for some clarity and also what the next steps going forward [would be].
“Because there was some chance I was going to maybe be in Phoenix, or maybe in situations where the environment hadn’t been winning for a while, and Kobe dealt with that in 2005-06, and that was tough. So I had to ask him, and gauge him about that.
“But after the fact, after everything happened, he was just super proud, and super happy.”
After a summer full of trade rumors, Irving was nearly dealt to the rebuilding Phoenix Suns. But in the end, he found himself headed to a better situation with the Boston Celtics, who currently reside as one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
Despite playing in his final game nearly two years ago, Bryant still has a long-lasting impact on today’s NBA players. Current Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma strives to emulate Bryant on the court and was appreciative of a recent conversation with the future Hall-of-Famer held over dinner.
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