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Phil Handy Recalls How Kobe Bryant Helped Kyrie Irving: "Kyrie Really Respected Kobe, And Kobe Was A Big Fan Of Kyrie"

kyrie irving kobe bryant

There's no doubt that Kyrie Irving is one of the most talented players to ever live. Often controversial and outspoken, yes, but equally amazing. Not many people in the history of basketball have been able to do what he does night in and night out.

And if you don't take our word for it, just ask Phil Handy, one of the most respected and experienced assistant coaches in the NBA.

Handy has surely seen a couple of stars throughout his time in the league. Then again, he told James Posey on his Podcast that Kyrie Irving is perhaps the most talented player he's ever coached:

“You remember that first year that I got to Cleveland, that was a challenge within itself because Ky is an unbelievable talent,” Handy said. “Ky is an unbelievable talent. That dude is probably the most naturally talented dude I’ve ever been around," he continued.

Handy added that it was easy to motivate Kyrie Irving to prove that he was one of the best players in the game, and that, even though having LeBron James around obviously helped, Kyrie's mindset and revamped work ethic helped take his game up a notch:

“[I asked] Ky, ‘Do you just want to be a good player on a losing team or do you want to really prove to people that you can be one of the best point guards in this game and play at a high level and help your team win?’ Obviously, Bron coming back to Cleveland was a big caveat to that but before Bron came, Kyrie set himself on that path once he understood what it meant to work, did a better job of taking care of his body, changed his diet a little bit and just committed himself to the game on a full-time basis," he said.

Handy continued by revealing that he actually reached out to Kobe Bryant to ask him to mentor Kyrie. Fortunately, The Black Mamba was a huge fan of Irving's game, so he immediately bought in:

"Kyrie really respected Kobe, and Kobe was a big fan of Kyrie. When I got to Cleveland, I asked Kobe, ‘If you don’t mind mentoring this kid and helping, that would be tremendous.’ … And Kobe played a huge part in helping [Kyrie] from a peer standpoint, getting him to understand what his mindset needs to be," Handy said.

Irving and Bryant held a close relationship ever since. In fact, Kobe was the very first person Kyrie called from the locker room when he won the NBA Championship in 2016. He was clearly affected by Bryant's tragic passing and has paid homage to him on multiple occasions.

It's crazy to wonder how many people Kobe influenced throughout his career. He may not be around us physically anymore but his impact will be felt for generations.