Having played alongside both Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles, Tyronn Lue sees similarities with another superstar duo he now coaches.
Lue says that LeBron James and Kyrie Irving are going through what Kobe and Shaq did after winning their first championship together—just with a lot less acrimony.
Kyrie is Kobe; LeBron is Shaq. Tyronn Lue: "It's like it's the same." Column on the Cavs' title defense: https://t.co/O497BYJgi8
— KEVIN DING (@KevinDing) October 18, 2016
Irving, now feeling validated after helping lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to the promised land, is ready to take the next step in his career:
Kyrie Irving dared to take and make that winning shot during Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, acing the ultimate final exam in his “Mamba Mentality” graduate course. It was a class Tyronn Lue, upon becoming the Cavs head coach, had demanded Irving take. […] “I told him, ‘You want to have a Kobe mentality?‘” Lue recalled to Bleacher Report. “‘Kobe didn’t give a f–k. He don’t care. Whatever the outside is saying, he don’t care. Kobe’s going to be Kobe.'”
“It’s like it’s the same,” Lue said. “Shaq was already established and was older than Kobe, and he was the most dominant player in the league. And Kobe was always striving to be better—to be the best player ever. That was his goal. After winning the championship last year, Kyrie had the chance to go win the gold medal. Coming back this year, you can tell he’s really worked on his game—and he’s worked on his body. He wants to take that next step. He’s very capable of doing it.”
And now that Irving has come of age, he’ll follow Bryant’s footsteps again, trying to push his team through its title defense with youthful energy and insistence on progress over status quo. […] “It really is a lot of the same, because LeBron’s been to six straight Finals; his body’s been beat up,” Lue said. “Shaq was the same way, being beat up through his career, and taking summers to relax and get his body right. LeBron never takes time off, but Shaq was really beat up over those years. The Lakers coming back, bringing Shaq back slow, letting him get in shape in camp, it’s kind of the same way with LeBron. Kyrie’s already in shape because he played in the summer, and he’s ready to go.”