Following the Cleveland Cavaliers dramatic comeback series win against the Golden State Warriors, Cavs guard Kyrie Irving, who hit the game-winning three in Game 7 to seal the championship, FaceTimed an NBA legend just moments after.
After seeing his family, Irving FaceTimed one of the best to ever step on the floor — Kobe Bryant.
“I actually FaceTimed Kobe after the game as soon as I got in the locker room,” Irving says. “Other than seeing my dad and my sister right after we won, FaceTiming him was just a great thing, knowing how he has won five and I just won my first. Then realizing how hard it is just to win one, my respect for him is already high, but it went to another level knowing that he’s got five of them. I’m trying to get a second one.”
Phil Handy, the Cavs Director of Player Development, helped set the FaceTime up as he was previously with the LA Lakers as the Director of Player Development.
“[Bryant] was telling me congrats,” Irving says of the FaceTime. “I had been speaking to him throughout the entire playoffs and during the season. During the Finals, we didn’t really talk as much, because for me, I wanted to experience it full on, and if I needed his help, I would reach out to him. He would send me some texts here and there, but mainly he kind of let me be, and let me grow into my own space.”
Irving met Bryant while playing on Team USA prior to the 2012 Olympics. Irving even once challenged Bryant to a game of 1-on-1, but the game never occurred.
Bryant has had a huge impact on the younger generation of basketball players, including Irving. Even though he kept to himself throughout his playing days, Bryant has never hesitated to lend a hand to a younger player, even cementing himself as a mentor.
Irving’s call to Bryant is just the latest example of how Bryant’s legacy has lived on. After all, the five-time champion has certainly been there before.