Kyrie Irving wanted to be "the man" with a new team outside of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Now that he has his chance, it is time to prove his actual worth, according to Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green.
Irving dropped a bombshell on the Cavs when he asked for a trade as he eventually joined Eastern Conference rivals the Boston Celtics.
The All-Star reportedly requested a trade because he no longer wanted to play with LeBron James. While the request shocked many in the NBA, two-time championship winner Green was not stunned.
"I wouldn't necessarily say it surprised me. I would say more than anything, it's the respect level I have for him," Green said.
"That's tough to do. I don't think people take into account that he put so much pressure on himself by doing that. But the willingness to do that, knowing the pressure that comes with that and saying, 'I'm ready to do it; let's do it.' That's what stood out to me more than anything."
Irving was a part of a team in Cleveland that won the 2016 NBA title and went to three consecutive NBA Finals against the Warriors from 2015-2017.
He averaged 21.6 points per game in his six-year career with the Cavaliers, but made the playoffs in only three of those years, which began when James returned to the Cavs.
"Most people would probably say, 'LeBron is the greatest player in the world,'" Green said. "I don't say this in disrespect to LeBron. But speaking of Kyrie, to say, 'I don't want to play with him no more. I want to do my own thing.'
"You have to deliver with that. He's basically saying, 'I'm ready to deliver.' That's big. That says a lot."
While defending champions the Warriors have kept their core players together, the Cavs, the Celtics, the Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder have all revamped their rosters with incoming All-Stars.
Green said the NBA only has James to thank for the roster "arms race."
"LeBron made it OK. I think he opened up a new door for guys. He gave guys a voice and willing to use that voice," Green said of James going to the Miami Heat, then moving back to Cleveland.
"To take careers into your own hands and go where you feel you want to go. Obviously, there are rules in place to try to stop it. But you have the power to do what you want to do. That's a special thing. If anything, he opened guys eyes on what you can possibly do."
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