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June 3, 2015

Kyrie Irving


Q.  What has the week since the Eastern Conference Finals been like for you?  And since we talked to you on Monday, how's your body feeling?
KYRIE IRVING:  Oh, just taking the necessary days.  You know, getting my body prepared to play Game 1.  You know, being with our medical staff, and, like I said, just trying to do whatever I can to be prepared for Game 1.

Q.  There are so many tremendous individual stars in this series.  If you had to pick one player, though, who is the most unguardable player in this series?  And why?
KYRIE IRVING:  And why?  I mean, like you said, I don't think you can necessarily pinpoint one player because there are spectacular players out there that can make spectacular plays at any given moment within a game.  Obviously, playing at the highest level, this is The Finals, so probably even more spectacular plays I'm looking forward to seeing and actually hopefully doing.
You can't pinpoint one player. ¬†It's just every match‑up on the floor, from 1 through 5, is a great match‑up offensively and defensively.¬† You've just got to be prepared.

Q.  I asked Steph Curry this same question.  Doing a story on the art of dribbling, and you two are considered the top two ball handlers in the league.  Do you agree with that?  And what does it take to be a great ball handler?
KYRIE IRVING:  Well, I definitely agree with that.  Steph has done an unbelievable job of getting where he needs to go and also getting a shot off.  It's crazy the way he does it.  For me, watching him and then watching me as well when you're out there doing it, it's like you're just playing off instincts.
I remember just being in my driveway, and I've told this story plenty of times, literally, I don't do anything that's out of the ordinary, it's just repetition.¬† Not being afraid to try that move that your coach tells you not to do, like being on a fast break and doing double moves and your coach wants you to do a regular lay‑up.¬† I don't believe in that.¬† I believe in having creativity in the game and bringing excitement to what everyone kind of is afraid to do, I'm willing to do it.
I think Steph has that same mindset, that fearless, whatever at the given moment, instincts.  It would be a crazy play for someone else, but for us it's like it's just the game.  So this is a true art form that I truly appreciate and love that we get recognition for it.

Q.  Knowing you how I do, you don't like to have your injuries out there.  You don't like to have that for the world to see and know.  How has this been for you the last couple weeks?  There's always an update on your situation, sometimes a setback, progress, whatnot.  But everybody knows what you're going through physically.  How have you dealt with that?
KYRIE IRVING:  It's definitely been an adjustment for me because I don't necessarily watch that much TV anymore or sports anymore.  I'm just asked all the time whether it be the regular person walking around in Cleveland or someone here in San Francisco, I'm walking down the street and they ask me how's my knee doing.  I'm like, I'm fine.  Thank you.  My knee is okay.  It's like, Are you playing?  Are you playing Game 1?  I'm like, Yeah, I'll be playing.
It's an adjustment, but it's what it is at this point.  But I'm just going to go out there and will myself to play.

Q.  Can you talk about what LeBron's done with a couple of your guys banged up during the playoffs and sort of how he handles the pressure that's on him to deliver what your fans want after all these years?
KYRIE IRVING:  Just, like he normally does.  If everyone's not at full strength, he knows he has to raise his level, and I think it's just the mindset he goes into.  It's a mode that he goes into, and it's just unstoppable.  It's just when you combine being that smart of a basketball player as well as having been gifted with so many physical attributes from God, it's just like you combine those two, and it's hard to stop a guy like that.
So when he takes it to another level and he's driving and hitting a mid‑range jumpshot, it's hard to stop him.

Q.  You said you're going to will yourself to play.  How challenging is that for a player like you at your position who relies so much on quickness?  How much can you will yourself through an injury like this?
KYRIE IRVING:  It's definitely tough because obviously mentally and physically you want to be in line.  It's just like some of the things I'm thinking about doing mentally, you know, your body just kind of stops and you catch yourself a little bit sometimes.  You've got to get off the ball.  But for me, it's just about finding my spots and seeing where I could be more effective out there for my teammates.

Q.¬† Do you ever doubt that you guys would get to this point?¬† I wonder if you could tell us a little bit about‑‑ I think you spoke to Joe Vardon about this earlier in the year, a conversation you and LeBron had in LA kind of at a crucial moment at a shootaround, I guess, where you guys took off as a team after that?
KYRIE IRVING:  I think it was Phoenix.  Phoenix.  Well, for me, I came in with just an open mind.  When you have veterans on our team like we do that kind of know exactly what we have and what we need to do to get better as a team and different pieces that we're kind of missing and then we go out and get it, I've never seen it done like that.
For me I've kind of been in the background and being the young guy, I've played with so many different guys, the whole dynamic of the last year has been totally different.  And coming in when you have guys that have won championships and know what it takes to win a championship, it's just from management all the way down to the players, it works hand in hand, as well as the coaches.  Everyone is being in full communication all the time.  There's no gray area with anything, so I think that made it easier for everyone to just come in and be themselves.
Then also just lucky.  Like we got really, really lucky with guys coming in and the team that we have now.  It's just amazing how much we've come together.  Just all the ups and downs throughout the season and going through it has made us closer as a team.

Q.  In terms of the art form of dribbling, can you talk about how you started out and focused on it?  Who kind of led you to do that, and how much time you spent on it, and who did you watch most closely to kind of study them on tape?
KYRIE IRVING:¬† Well, definitely watched my Uncle Rod, Rod Strickland a lot.¬† Because he necessarily didn't finish over the rim.¬† It was more or less under the rim and finishing over bigs and having that spin on the basketball.¬† It was uncommon.¬† Just his ability to switch and stay in the air.¬† Of course Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant, watching his footwork.¬† Because without footwork, then your handle is‑‑ and also Jason Williams.¬† Okay, White Chocolate.¬† Guys like that I've watched and moves that they make on great defenders I've tried to emulate.
Then I'd watch it on YouTube, and I'd go out on my driveway and try it.¬† And then I'd watch more YouTube videos and I'd go back out and try it.¬† It would be an all‑night thing.¬† I'm still an avid YouTube watcher.¬† Even watching young guys that are coming up, and past guys, and guys that I'm playing against now.
So it's just always trying to learn more because obviously I'm not an over‑the‑rim finisher, so my ability to get from point A to point B with doing combination of movements is what I'm effective at, so I just have to try to perfect that.

Q.¬† You guys have the best player in the world.¬† You've got you, a perennial All‑Star.¬† Are you surprised or even a bit bothered or offended that you guys seem to be such underdogs in this series?
KYRIE IRVING:  No, not at all.  I mean, for me, it's just about two teams that have worked extremely hard all year.  This is what it's all about.  We're both competing for a championship.  People are going to kind of put their own opinion on who is the underdog or what team is better or anything like that.
It's just about being prepared as much as we can going into Game 1 and getting the job done.

Q.  There was a game during the year where you asked Miller, I think it was against the Bulls, where you asked Miller, Is this what the Playoffs are like?  Now reflecting on that game, can you describe your playoff run until now?
KYRIE IRVING:  Yeah, that was the second game of the season (laughing).  Yeah, and look where we are now.  Because I had never experienced anything like that.  We played in Chicago, and now actually going through a playoff series with him is totally different.  But it was the first time.  It was packed, and you could just feel the energy, and that was almost every arena we played in.
That was the first time I'd ever experienced something like that where we were traveling on the road, at home, it's basically sold out everywhere we go.¬† That was like second game, big‑time game against Chicago Bulls.¬† It was like, is this the playoffs?¬† Is this what it feels like?¬† Obviously Mike's a champion, and he's like, oh, no, not really.¬† And now playing in three playoff series, it doesn't even compare.¬† It's nothing like the playoffs or the feeling of it.
So now that I actually have that experience, it's funny looking back on it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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