Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward were introduced to the Boston media together on Friday morning as the two new stars of the Celtics franchise. Hayward, acquired earlier this summer in free agency, was definitely not the focal point of the press conference, though. That honor belonged the newest acquisition, Irving, who received the vast majority of questions as he was speaking to the media for the first time since requesting a trade from Cleveland.
Irving spoke briefly about the reasons behind his request, and how it wasn’t totally about basketball. Rather, he discussed how this request was about a better chance for his personal growth on and off the court. While much of the press conference was kept to questions about the future, the elephant in the room was how his request impacted his relationship with his former Cavs teammates, most notably LeBron James.
Getting out from under James’ shadow was reportedly one of the reasons Irving wanted to leave Cleveland, something he pretty much acknowledged in his message to fans on Thursday when he said he wanted to “maximize his potential.” When asked at the very end of the Friday morning press conference about whether he’d spoken to James, Irving stated that the two hadn’t talked since his request, but then explained how he will be “eternally grateful” to James for everything he taught him in three years.