NBA legend Kobe Bryant offered up some advice to Celtics star Kyrie Irving amid a season filled with frustration and drama for the 27-year-old guard.
Bryant, who has been a mentor and friend to Irving for many years, said earlier this week that Irving needs to “find an emotional connection with each player” if he wants to bring a championship back to Boston.
“The next move for him is figuring out how to get the most out of the pieces around him,” Bryant said, via boston.com. “That’s really hard, right? And understanding how do you find an emotional connection with each player, figure out what their fears are, and help turn those fears into strengths. To do that, you have to put time in.”
Bryant explained he went through a similar situation while he was in the NBA and didn’t realize how important connecting with younger players was until Michael Jordan told him the same thing after the Lakers lost to the Celtics in the 2008 NBA Finals.
“(Jordan) said, ‘Listen, you have all the individual tools. Now you have to figure out how to connect with each one of those guys and bring the best out of those guys,’ ” Bryant explained. “It’s not about just passing them the ball and saying, ‘That’s what makes guys better.’ That’s not it. You have to figure out how to touch the right buttons to make them want to be the best versions of themselves. How do you do that?
“That was my challenge in ’09 and 2010. I was able to figure it out. And that’s what Kyrie has to figure out.”
The Celtics entered the season with high hopes of winning the title, but Boston has fallen to fourth in the Eastern Conference with a 45-31 record, 12 games behind the top-ranked Bucks.
Irving has played an integral role in keeping the Celtics in the playoff race, averaging 23.9 points while shooting 49 percent from the field.