KYRIE Irving praised LeBron James as ‘the true testament of a consummate professional’ after going all out in leading the Cleveland Cavaliers’ valiant effort against a powerhouse Golden State Warriors team that ultimately fell short on Monday (Tuesday, Manila time).
The Cavs bowed to the Warriors, 129-120, in Game 5 as Golden State reclaimed the throne from Cleveland, which broke the Dubs' hearts with a historic comeback from 1-3 down in last year's finale.
James fell to a 3-5 record in the NBA Finals but Irving stood up to defend the four-time MVP and three-time champion amid criticisms of his finals failures despite becoming the first player in league history to average a triple double in the finals with 33.6 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.
“As a student of the game, it would be a disservice if I didn’t try to learn as much as possible while I’m playing with this guy,” he said of James. “Every single day, demanding more out of himself, demanding more out of us, the true testament of a consummate professional.”
Irving said playing with James has taught him plenty of what greatness requires, not just on the court or in practice but also on how to stay in top shape and how to deal with criticism from pundits.
“You can’t skip any steps, and that was one thing that I came to understand,” he said of one of the main lessons he learned from James. “Whether you want to believe in him or not, he’s still coming. And that’s the type of guy that I want to be with every single time I’m going to war, because I know what to expect.”
“You move to the front line with a guy like that, and you want to bring your game up to another level. That’s what I’m going to continue to do, because I know that if we continue to be with one another and keep utilizing one another, man, the sky’s the limit,” added Irving, who was encouraged by James that they will be back in the Finals as they headed to the lockers after the Game 5 loss.
“I couldn’t be more proud of that guy. He left it all out there on the floor, and to average a triple-double in the freaking Finals, man, add that to the LeBron long list that everyone keeps forgetting.”
Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving with an amazing tribute to LeBron James pic.twitter.com/XXZan1lwHE— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) June 13, 2017