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LeBron James and Kyrie Irving became the top duo in the NBA this past summer when they helped lead the Cavs to a historic comeback NBA Finals victory, ending the Cleveland championship curse.
Head coach Tyronn Lue played with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal in Los Angeles and he can see a lot of similarities between the two duos. Lue says that Kyrie is Kobe in this situation and took things to another level this year when he hit that cold-blooded game winning 3-pointer to propel the Cavs to the championship.
The second-year head coach compares his star player James, who is the most dominant player in the world to Shaq who at the time was the most dominant force in the league as well. Check it out below via Bleacher Report:
“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.”