The final matchup between Kobe Bryant and LeBron James went down earlier this week. After the game, Bryant took a second to comment on the Cavaliers’ locker room, which has made headlines recently for all the wrong reasons. Bryant said that Cleveland needs a “lightning rod,” and immediately pointed to Kyrie Irving as a kind of guy who can create “inner conflict.” It sounds weird, but Bryant meant this as a compliment, noting that every team needs someone “driving things” and that James isn’t that guy because he’s naturally the type of person who brings everyone together.
Apparently, this resonated with Irving. While this seems like it could be taken as an insult, Irving explained to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin that he concurred with Bryant about needing to step up and take on a bigger role in the team’s locker room.
“It’s in my personality, I would agree with that,” Irving told ESPN.com before Cleveland practiced on the campus of UCLA on Saturday.
“I think if one of the greatest players to play our game and has had championship runs and has been on teams where he’s either been that or he’s been the guy that has been the emotional voice of the team and holding guys accountable, I think he said it best. I think that in order for our team to be where we want to go, I have to step up and be that other leader on our team other than LeBron. So, I would agree with that. It’s definitely in my personality. It’s taken me a few years to kind of grow into that and kind of earn my teammates’ respect and also hold myself accountable when I’m out there.”
The good news for Cavaliers fans is that Irving seems like he’s willing to accept a bigger leadership role with the team. Considering that there have been a few (mostly unsubstantiated) reports which question Irving’s happiness in Cleveland, it’s definitely a positive to see that he’s willing to do whatever it takes to be a leader for the wine and gold.