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WATCH: Kyrie Irving shares how Kobe Bryant helped motivate him in the 2016 NBA Finals and through injuries

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving uses some of his off-season off-season time to play video games and stream on Twitch. He has spoken on a variety of topics and one of the conversations was a story about Kobe Bryant giving him advice and motivation that helped him succeed during the 2016 NBA Finals.

Irving – who was with the Cleveland Cavaliers at the time – said it all started the previous year when he was struggling through multiple injuries in the 2015 playoffs. He suffered from a right foot strain that occurred during the first round series against the Boston Celtics. Irving overcompensated with his left leg and eventually this became a problem and an MRI showed he had tendinitis in his left knee. His injuries visibly affected his game during the Eastern Conference Semifinals series against the Chicago Bulls.

Irving decided to call Bryant, who was with the Los Angeles Lakers in his penultimate season, and told him his left leg was not doing well. Bryant told him to only focus on the things he can do instead of the things he can’t. The “mission” had to be the only thing on his mind. Heeding advice, Irving scored 25 points in Game 5 to help his team take a 3-2 lead.

“I literally hopped on one leg,” Irving said. “We were playing the Bulls…they had a solid team. Kobe told me before the game to just focus on what you can do and I ended up getting 25.”

The Cavs eventually made it to the NBA Finals before losing to the Golden State Warriors. Irving wasn’t able to contribute much on court for this series, suffering a season-ending fracture of his left kneecap in Game 1. He admitted the offseason was tough for him and that he “really blew up” over the summer, so he decided to seek Bryant’s advice once again.

“I asked Kobe how I’m attacking this season. How can I really commit and focus on the mission of winning the championship?” said Irving. “He said bluntly, ‘You don’t care what people say. If you’re paying attention to what other people are saying, stop.”

Bryant last played against Irving on March 11, 2016. At this point, the Lakers weren’t out of playoff contention, but it was clear the team probably wouldn’t finish the season on top. The Cavs looked like they had a shot at fighting for the championship again, so Irving was hoping for more valuable advice from his hero.

The night before they faced each other on the court for the last time, they met for dinner in Los Angeles and Irving said Bryant gave him a tough love that lit a fire.

“He gave me extra motivation in the Kobe way,” said Irving. “He was like, man, I think Golden State is definitely going to win the championship this year. Can you imagine Kobe saying that? He was my hero.”

Irving said he looked Bryant straight in the eye and told him the Warriors weren’t going to win that one, he was going to make the Cavs win it.

Cleveland had another successful season, ending with a 57-25 record and finishing in the finals against the Warriors for the second straight season. That series was one to remember as the Warriors had taken a 3-1 lead before the Cavs hit back to take them to a Game 7 in Oakland.

The last game stood at 89 with less than a minute to go in the fourth quarter. Irving went one-for-one with golden state guard Steph Curry before hitting a three to give the Cavs a three-up with 53 seconds left.

Irving finished that game with 26 points, helping the Cavs earn a 93-89 win and lift the 2016 NBA champion trophy, just like he told Bryant.

https://www.cbssports.com/nba/news/watch-kyrie-irving-recounts-how-kobe-bryant-helped-motivate-him-in-2016-nba-finals-and-through-injuries/ WATCH: Kyrie Irving shares how Kobe Bryant helped motivate him in the 2016 NBA Finals and through injuries

Justin Scacco

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