Nets' Kyrie Irving says he's a better leader now than he was with Celtics and Cavaliers

Colin Martin
·3 min read

Nets guard Kyrie Irving has liked what he's seen from the team during their eight-game winning streak and feels he's been more of a leader this year than he was in any season with the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers.

"Well one I think, there was a lot of people speaking for me, or speaking on my behalf that really didn't know who I was," Irving said. "I didn't offer that access to a lot of people because it's just a trust. Leaks here, somebody's saying this here. In Cleveland and in Boston. And I'm not going to sit here and talk about Cleveland and Boston because I know where that goes, where that can go in terms of who you're talking about or what you're talking about, so I'll just generalize it.

"What I learned from those experiences was, if you're not enjoying the journey, and you're not committed the way that you would like to be committed. And I mean every day, even when you're tired, when when you're having good days, bad days. You gotta be able to galvanize the group, even when it's low and even when it's high. It's the balance of leadership. There isn't one leader. And I've had to accept that too, it's not on me to lead the group by myself, and be the hero that everybody wants."

Irving played six seasons in Cleveland and two in Boston before deciding to sign with the Nets during the summer of 2019. The former No. 1 overall pick reached the top of the league by winning a title with the Cavs, but then had an underwhelming stint with the Celtics.

"I'm grateful to be in this position to be able to set a better example now than I did then," Irving said. "And I take accountability for not necessarily stepping up to the plate or stepping up the responsibility for my own actions. I had a lot to do with success and failures of the teams I was on. I take my role very serious in terms of that, and I've been able to learn lessons from that to give to other. 

"That's been the most beautiful part, is just to learn. I'm just more excited about that than anything. It's been able to translate here with the guys that are here. It's always been bigger than the game for me, is what I'm saying."

Irving is averaging 27.4 points per game over 23 contests this season, good enough to earn him a starting spot for the Eastern Conference All-Star team. Fellow teammate Kevin Durant is the East All-Star captain, while James Harden was named an All-Star reserve. 

The Nets have won eight games in a row after Thursday's victory over the Orlando Magic. It's the best winning-streak that the franchise has had since moving to Brooklyn in 2012.

Irving will look to use his veteran leadership throughout the rest of the season, as the Nets contend for the Eastern Conference title against strong teams like the Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks.