Kyrie Irving has played alongside LeBron James the past two seasons, getting an up-close look at one of the best all-around players in NBA history. But if you ask the Cleveland Cavaliers star point guard, Kobe Bryant is the player he admires the most from a mental standpoint.
"In terms of a mental approach, as well as some technical stuff about the game, I'll always go to Kobe because he's as polished as they come," Irving told NBCSports.com. "If you're talking about who literally just physically imposed himself on the game every single day, and that mindset, oh I definitely going to talk Kobe."
Irving admitted he's admired the recently retired Los Angeles Lakers icon for many years, even patterning parts of his game after the Black Mamba.
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"I never got a chance to play with Kobe, I always watched from the outside like everyone else did -- and I've been watching Kobe for however long," Irving said. "I mean, me and my dad used to watch Lakers games and I was just specifically watching his footwork. I'm just studying that dude constantly, constantly, constantly. And once he became a mentor of mine, it was just great."
Irving displayed Bryant's killer instinct in Game 7 of this year's Finals, hitting a series-clinching 3-pointer in the waning moments against the Warriors.