DALLAS: Ten bonus thoughts on Super Bowl Sunday…
1. I’ve kind of had a knot in my stomach since filing that story last night on the strife in the Cavs’ locker room. I ended last night’s Thoughts by writing this stuff isn’t fun for me and it’s not. You spend enough time around people, get to know them a little bit and you grow to admire and respect them. I’m not talking specifically about the players, but people throughout the organization. One of the hardest things to do, then, is set their building on fire.
2. I experienced it last year, too, with Byron Scott. I really liked, admired and respected Byron. I enjoyed spending three years with him. He was fantastic to deal with every day, he was hilarious (great sense of humor, great timing and very witty) and we built a fair amount of trust with each other. To have to write the column I did toward the end of last season, when I pretty much knew he was getting fired, was one of the most difficult pieces I’ve ever written. But professionally you have to just suck it up and do things you don’t like sometimes. That occurred again last night.
3. I was thinking about my interview with Kyrie Irving during this morning’s flight from Houston to Dallas. Irving has a tough exterior that is usually difficult to break through. He’s very polished, almost robotic at always saying the right things. He rarely ever reveals anything about himself.
4. Friday was the exception. Friday, in that brief conversation I had with him after practice, he was genuine, sincere, even a touch vulnerable. “I just feel like what people fail to realize is I don’t have all the answers all the time,” he said. “I’m still the third-youngest on this team. I’m a 21-year-old kid trying to figure this whole thing out. It’s a daily job and that’s probably why it’s been one of the toughest years for me. Just learning every single day.”
5. More Irving: “I needed this. It was more or less a wake-up call. I got away with so much my first two years. It wasn’t a breeze, but everything came easy. This is the first year where every single night it’s going to be a challenge. That’s one of the things I’m getting used to and I’ve accepted it.”
6. Go back and re-read both of those quotes. That might be more he has truly revealed about himself than his first 2 ½ years here combined. I believe him when he says that stuff, and I’ve been as hard on him as anyone.
7. It was one of those had-to-be-there moments, but his tone, his facial expressions, the way he paused and really thought before answering some questions … it all seemed very genuine.
8. Irving has really come under attack for the last week. From me, from national media and even from some teammates. It has probably been his most difficult week professionally in what he already admitted has been his toughest year.
9. It’s not uncommon for players to get aggravated with young stars. Some of the old Cavs players often complained to coaches/management about a young LeBron James and how difficult it was to play with him. James was young and still trying to figure things out. In that regard, Irving is much the same way.
10. I’ve written many, many times this season that this team isn’t mentally or physically tough enough. They’re soft. But times like this will make them tougher. That includes Irving, too.