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Kyrie relishes praise from LeBron before NBA Finals: ‘Got to love this’

BOSTON – The LeBron James-Kyrie Irving mutual admiration party continued Wednesday.

One day after James offered effusive praise of Irving, calling him of the most skilled players to play in the NBA and wishing he still played alongside his former teammate, Irving, the Mavs star guard playing in his fourth NBA Finals, responded.

“Got to love this, man,” Irving said. ‘I have a great reaction. It’s appreciated. There’s a lot of gratitude there, as well. Obviously, I’m in a different age, different place in my life. So is he. I think we both have been able to mature and really appreciate what we got a chance to accomplish.

“I think there were some things that got in the way of our relationship when I was a little bit younger. Now that I’m able to vocalize how I feel as a man, be comfortable in it, stand on my square, my beliefs, where I’m coming from, I feel like our relationship’s different because of that now.”

Irving requested a trade from Cleveland after the Cavaliers played in their third consecutive NBA Finals in 2017. The decision to leave was stunning, considering the Cavaliers were still a championship-caliber team.

Irving ended up in Boston, Dallas’ opponent in this season’s Finals.

“Just a mutual respect there for what we brought to the table,” Irving said. “His leadership, my leadership style, I think it meshed very well. I was learning a lot from him that I’m appreciative for the rest of my life.

“Man, when he says comments like that, I think back to us having those moments where we’re down in a series, up in a series, we’re really demanding greatness from each other. Off the court, our families meshing well.”

The Cavaliers won the 2016 championship with James and Irving leading the way. Irving made the winning shot in Game 7 against Golden State, and James had the block that helped ensure the victory.

“I feel like I’ve been built for this moment because I’ve gone through some of the things I’ve gone through in my past with some of the guys that have transcended the game.” he said, adding, “Shoutout to LeBron for that. Knows how to stir up a media storm, get everybody in here talking about us.”

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