Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving vowed to take on a bigger leadership role alongside new teammate LeBron James during the upcoming 2014-15 NBA season.
Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving will take on a bigger leadership role alongside four-time NBA MVP LeBron James.
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Irving made the declaration to The Northeast Ohio Group's Chris Haynes on Sept. 28:
"LeBron James made it clear when he said he was the leader of this Cavaliers team and that he would take full responsibility for any shortcomings.
"The expectation that was placed on this organization once James and Kevin Love stepped onto the scene has skyrocketed.
"Spending the past four years in Miami has shaped and developed his leadership skills.
"With the group of young players the Cavs will have to rely on to be successful, his leadership skills will surely be put to the test. He's ready.
"But it sounds like Kyrie Irving is ready, too. As the point guard, it's usually his job to be vocal, direct and to guide.
"Even though Irving is the younges player on the roster, he plans to assist James in leading this team.
"'I'm going to give input when I need to. When it needs to be said,' Irving said. 'Like I said, it's just (out) of respect for one another. LeBron, like he said, he is going to be the voice of the team, take responsibility. But we all have to take responsibility.
"'It's all up to us. We all have to take responsbility in order for us to be successful. Not one guy is going to be the ultimate guy. We all have a responsibility to lead this team.'
"A summer of helping Team USA win the gold in the FIBA World Cup games in Spain is where Irving became aware that even when playing amongst some of the greats, there's a time and place when something needs to be addressed.
"That experience will only help him and his team in their quest to bring a title to the city of Cleveland.
"'For me it's not about not being afraid to tell people where to go or put my input where it's needed,' Irving said.
"'Obviously, we all know the game and we all have input. Just respecting each other's opinion and making adjustments when we can.'
"For the time being, at the early stages of training camp, it's all about learning Coach David Blatt's philosophy and system, and getting acclimated to sets and assignments. This is where if finally hit Irving: He realized this wasn't last year's team.
"'I mean, when you're walking through, it starts to hit you a little bit. That surreal moment came yesterday,' he said. 'When we first started, I'm passing to the wing, I'm passing to LeBron.
"'I'm running a one-four pick-and-roll or the one-five pick-and-roll with K-Love, and he's picking and popping. It's just something you watched him do in Minnesota and LeBron did (it) in Miami. It's a surreal moment.'
"A ton of talents with big goals attached means communciation and the willingness to listen will be essential. That time will come for 'the talk.' It's inevitable. It's important how the team handles it."
Irving agreed with James' assessment on Sunday when the latter said, "This is Kyrie's show." James is alluding to the fact that he's never been around a point guard of Irving's caliber, per Haynes' colleague at The Northeast Ohio Media Group, Joe Vardon:
"Kyrie Irving insists he only needs to be himself now that the Cleveland Cavaliers have added LeBron James and Kevin Love.
"Irving reiterated the point Sunday following the Cavaliers' second practice of the season -- which came a day after James shifted a little more of the spotlight onto Irving by saying 'this is Kyrie's show.'
"James' statement came within a discussion of Irving's role -- and James' role too -- handling the ball and initiating the offense. Irving is the Cavaliers' point guard but was also the team's leading scorer until James arrived.
"James, a wing player by nature who often takes on the role of point forward, especially late in games, said, 'I've never played with a point guard like Kyrie Irving, a guy that can kind of take over a game for himself.'
"'You try to just put it in perspective, that I'm the point guard of this team,' Irving said Sunday at Cleveland Clinic Courts, responding to a question about James' statements. 'I've got to get us into our offense and lead our defense, just continue to be myself.
"'I don't think (James) could've said it any better, honestly,' Irving said. You guys are going to make what you wanted out of that, but for us it's just about making plays. All of us have the ability to make plays out there and I think our offense will be designed around that.'
"Irving, 22, averaged 20.8 points and 5.8 assists in an All-Star season last year. He was the Cavaliers' first option on offense -- unusual for a point guard -- and that will undboubtedly change with James and Love on the floor."
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