Kyrie Irving has always maintained an immense love for Kobe Bryant, a player he considers his hero. Kobe and Kyrie had a strong relationship, with Bryant mentoring many players towards the end of his playing career.
Bryant retired in 2016 after completing his 20th season of playing for the Lakers. His team wasn't going to the post-season, but Kyrie's Cleveland Cavaliers, led by LeBron James were looking like favorites to reach the NBA Finals.
A small problem that occurred was that the Golden State Warriors were by far the favorites to win the title after going 73-9 in the regular season. Irving revealed what Kobe said to get him in the mindset to win the title despite the odds against the Cavaliers.
"I asked Kobe how do I attack this season. How do I really lock in and focus on the mission of winning the championship?" Irving said. "He straight up said, 'You can't give a f--k about what people say. If you are paying attention to what other people say, stop.'"
"He gave me some extra motivation in the most Kobe way," Irving recounted. "He was like, man I think Golden State is definitely going to win the championship this year. Can you imagine Kobe saying that? He was my hero."
Being dissed by Kobe and responding by winning a title is possibly the perfect response a player could give when challenged by the legendary guard. All modern NBA players mythicize Kobe for his achievements, so being able to step up to a challenge like this successfully has to be regarding.
Irving has sadly not reached those heights since 2016, being eliminated in the first round via the only sweep of the playoffs this season. Hopefully, recounting this story reminds Irving of the motivation and he can come next season with a fresh outlook to win.