Saturday, May 21, 2011

Possible Cleveland Cavaliers draft pick Kyrie Irving discusses relationship with LeBron James

CHICAGO — Kyrie Irving's favorite NBA player is Chris Paul. Irving, the Duke point guard many assume will be the Cavaliers' No. 1 pick in the NBA draft on June 23, has tried to pattern his game after Paul's, and those of Derrick Rose and Chauncey Billups.

But he also has gotten plenty of advice from LeBron James. Irving has attended James' camps twice, and the two have been friends for at least the past three years.
Possible Cleveland Cavaliers draft pick Kyrie Irving discusses relationship

"He's definitely filled a big brother role in my life, just giving me advice, and when I was definitely going through the three-month stretch when I got hurt he was definitely talking to me every single week, telling me to keep my faith," Irving said Thursday at the NBA combine here, where he is skipping workouts and taking part only in interviews and medical testing. "That relationship is special to me just based on the fact that I have someone in the NBA already that's giving me advice on what things to do and what things not to do is always helpful."

But Irving said that he had not been recruited to join James' marketing company, LRMR, nor that of his agent, Leon Rose -- Creative Artists Agency (CAA.)

Earlier this week, highly respected Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! wrote about the uneasiness that would have resulted had Irving signed with LRMR and/or CAA and then been drafted in Cleveland, where James' departure still stings. Wojnarowski said rival agents believed Irving would sign with CAA, which also signed Paul.

Irving said that was never going to happen.

"CAA never officially recruited me," said Irving, who is represented by Jeff Wechsler. "I was close with LeBron and a couple of affiliates with CAA, but they never recruited me."

Obviously, recruiting is in the eye of the beholder. Where one individual sees schmoozing, another sees recruiting. Where one sees friendship, another sees business opportunity.

Asked his definition of "recruit," Irving said, "The talks about me signing with CAA never came up when I was talking with them. I think that's defining recruiting -- they're asking me to sign with them, recruiting me, doing everything in their power to convince me to go with them. That recruiting process never happened with them."

Still, should he end up with the Cavs, it could get a little weird getting advice on Cleveland from a guy who left Cleveland, couldn't it?

"That situation isn't weird for me," said Irving, 19, who impressed observers with his thoughtful and polite answers. "I'm not in Cleveland yet. Cleveland hasn't drafted me yet. When that time comes, I don't think . . . comparisons are going to come regardless. That's something I'm prepared for. As of right now I just want to contribute to whatever team I go to or whatever teams wants to draft me. That's all I'm concerned about."

Irving said his injured right toe, which caused him to miss all but 11 games last season, had completely healed, although he does wear an orthotic device in his right shoe. He said he felt no pressure as the potential No. 1 pick, even if he winds up succeeding James in Cleveland.

"One, the pressure is not coming from Cleveland," said Irving, who briefly met Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and his 14-year-old son Nick on Tuesday at the draft lottery in New Jersey. "Two the pressure's coming from the NBA draft. The Cleveland pressure is really not weighted on my shoulders until -- if -- I get there, if they draft me.

"I'm not really concerned about that right now. I'm really concerned about being the best player I can be every single day and just working hard."


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