In his second game back since taking a break to mourn the loss of his mentor, Kyrie Irving put a up a performance worthy of Kobe Bryant’s legacy.
The Brooklyn Nets guard scored 54 points in a 133-118 win over the Chicago Bulls on Friday. When he hit a fadeaway jumper for his 54th and final point, he looked up and pointed to the sky to acknowledge his fallen hero.
Kyrie hit 54 points on this fadeaway and pointed to the sky after pumping up the Nets crowd ☝️ pic.twitter.com/uq3x6hV4ze— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 1, 2020
Irving red hot from the field
Irving scored his 54 points in remarkably efficient fashion, hitting 19-of-23 field goals and 9-of-10 free throws while finishing 7-of-9 from 3-point distance.
His big night included a steal and buzzer-beating 3-pointer to close the first half.
Kyrie’s relationship with Kobe
Irving, who had a close personal relationship with Bryant, left Madison Square Garden on Sunday upon the news of Bryant’s death alongside his daughter Gianna and missed the Nets game against the New York Knicks.
“I have an unbelievable mentorship, friendship with him,” Irving said of Bryant during a 2017 interview with ESPN.
Bryant told Sirius XM in 2019 about Irving FaceTiming him and Gianna from the celebratory locker room after his Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Golden State Warriors for the 2016 NBA championship.
“I remember sitting on the couch at home, after Cleveland came back from that 3-1 deficit and beat Golden State,” Bryant said. “We’re watching the game, me and Gianna are just there, hanging out. And my phone rings. And it’s a FaceTime call. ... It’s Kyrie. I pick it up. And Kyrie’s in the locker room celebrating on FaceTime. Like, ‘Dude! It worked! Your advice worked!’”
Kyrie cites ‘mamba mentality’
After Friday’s big performance and just minutes prior to the Lakers tipping off at Staples Center for the first time since Bryant’s death, Irving cited “mamba mentality” for his big night.
Kyrie after dropping 54 points against Bulls: "I had to keep it going... Kobe mentality and Mamba mentality." pic.twitter.com/djmomq7mst— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 1, 2020
“I’m just happy to be back playing the game that I love most,” Irving said. ... I hit a few shots in the first half. I had to keep it going — that Kobe mentality and mamba mentality, keep going. It felt good.”
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