How LeBron James and the Celtics haunt Kyrie-Luka for inspiration  

Before the Mavericks defeated the Clippers, Thunder, and Timberwolves to reach the NBA's top stage for the first time in 13 years, Kyrie Irving began to reflect on his three-year stint with LeBron James and the Boston Celtics and how they had changed him.  

I didn't know how to handle their personalities then. I felt like I had to beat my teammates every day "ESPN.   

I always told them to challenge the other guys when I first arrived because we were really competitive. We started like way as younger players because we wanted to be a great team."  

He avoided bringing up his problematic background this season to avoid distracting himself or the Mavericks. Irving's time in Dallas has given him a fresh start but also mirrors to reflect on his career.  

Luka Doncic, his Mavericks co-star, is the NBA's closest talent and role replica of James, his former Cleveland Cavaliers co-star. Jason Kidd, his head coach, was his New Jersey basketball idol.  

In fourth or fifth grade, my dad took us to see the Nets in the Finals. Irving stated we sat high in nosebleeds. "And seeing that up close, that's when I went home and wrote up in my closet so I'd see it every day: 'I am going to the NBA.'"  

Nico Harrison, Irving's Dallas general manager, was a trusted Nike business partner until Harrison resigned and Irving's relationship soured.  

In these Finals, he faced the team he tried, and mostly failed, to lead as a 26-year-old after wanting to escape James' shadow in Cleveland to make his own NBA history.  

"The Boston players know my game. Irving stated Wednesday after Game 3 that they know it well and can scheme for me. Going over this hurdle has been on my thoughts for a while. We anticipated obstacles would come, but they help us grow."  

Irving averaged 14 points on 35% shooting in his first two Boston games against Boston's bigger, muscular guards. He appeared embarrassed when TD Garden patrons booed.  


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