A day after LeBron James expressed pride watching Kyrie Irving’s growth from afar, the Dallas Mavericks star credited their playoff runs together with the Cleveland Cavaliers for shaping him into the player he is today.

“I just think back to just us having those moments where we’re down in a series or up in a series, and we’re really demanding greatness from each other,” Irving told reporters Wednesday, adding, “Definitely think about those times. But now we’re here in the present, where we’re able to reflect. But also, now I’m at this stage and able to use some of the formulas that I was taught from him, and some of the great teachers that have come before me.

“I feel like I’ve been built for this moment because I’ve gone through some of the things I’ve gone through in my past with some of the guys that have transcended the game.”


The star tandem led the Cavs to three consecutive Finals, including the franchise’s lone championship in 2016.

However, Irving requested a trade after the 2016-17 campaign as he reportedly sought a situation where he was the focal point of the team. The eight-time All-Star was promptly dealt to the Boston Celtics and then left for the Brooklyn Nets in free agency two years later.

Irving requested to be moved once again in February 2023 and was acquired by the Mavs before the trade deadline that year. The former No. 1 overall pick re-signed with Dallas in the offseason.

As Irving prepares for his first Finals appearance since his days in Cleveland, he’s gained a greater appreciation for his time playing alongside James.

“I’m at a different age, different place in my life. So is he,” Irving said. “And I think we’ve both been able to mature and really appreciate what we got a chance to accomplish.

“I think there were some things that got in the way of our relationship when I was a little bit younger. Now that I’m able to vocalize how I feel as a man, be comfortable in it, stand on my square, my beliefs, and where I’m coming from, I feel like our relationship’s different because of that now.”