INDEPENDENCE (92.3 The Fan) – Cleveland Cavaliers All-Star guard Kyrie Irving held his Basketball Procamp on Saturday at Independence High School, welcoming over 250 kids from grades 1-12 to his third camp in the Cleveland area since becoming a member of the Cavs.
“It’s a pleasure every single time. They’ve embraced me (as) a part of their community,” Irving said. “It’s always a pleasure. Being around the kids, that’s what it’s about. It makes my job a lot easier coming back here.”
Not only did Irving – along with 25 area prep basketball coaches – lead the participants through various drills and take photos with the campers on Saturday, he also took some time to address the local media in Cleveland for the first time since officially signing his contract extension and LeBron James announced his decision to return.
Here are a few highlights from his media session on Saturday:
How does it feel having the extension signed and behind you?
“It’s been very exciting. I’m just very glad we got it done… A couple of days later a guy decided to come back to Cleveland – the rest is history. Now, we’re just making moves in the off-season and letting David Griffin do his thing… I was around coach (David) Blatt and Ty Lue, the new additions, and I was with a couple of our draft picks out in Vegas this past week. It’s been a little bit of a whirlwind, but it’s been exciting. It’s a great feeling. I have a great feeling about our organization and the direction we’re heading in.”
How did you come to an agreement before actually signing the extension?
“We shook hands. We left the table. Dan (Gilbert) wanted to tweet it out. I wanted to tweet it out – just to prove to the fans that we were committed to bringing a championship back. Me being the front-runner of that, getting the ball rolling, we just wanted to prove that to everybody.”
Why was signing the extension important?
“We wanted to make it easy as possible. It was more less, I wanted to show my commitment and they wanted to show their commitment to me. That’s what it was really about. It was about our commitment to the team and what’s best for the team. They wanted me to be part of the future and I want to be part of the future. It was a huge monkey off my back, from all the speculation, all the B.S. that was written. I’m just glad I got it out of the way and now I can focus on just getting better with this future team that we have.”
What was your first reaction when you heard LeBron James was returning to Cleveland?
“I was excited. It was more or less, you kind of have to empathize with the guy, the way he felt. It was a heartfelt essay. I think we all felt his emotions through that essay. I know we’re all excited to have him back.
How did you find out?
“I found out when everybody else found out.” (via SI.com)
What can this current team accomplish with LeBron in the mix?
“Honestly, we’ll just have to see. I’m not going to make any predictions or do anything right now. My focus is on the off-season and getting ready for USA basketball and waiting to see what David Griffin does. He’s a hell of a GM. In his short time, he’s proving that not only to the players but everybody around the world – just about his commitment to Cleveland and what he wants to do in order to bring a championship here.”
What does LeBron’s return mean to the city of Cleveland?
“It’s an exciting time for downtown Cleveland, I can tell you that. I’m excited. Everything happened so fast. Now that we got a chance to process that, I know I’m happy he’s back and I can actually play with him, instead of playing with him in the All-Star Game. It’s going to be a pleasure to learn from him and just grown with him in the next few years.”
Have you reached out to LeBron since he made his decision?
“Just a congratulations. I know how that whole thing goes. Especially, the media is calling, everybody is calling, everybody is congratulating you. I just congratulated him. Right now, he’s focused on his family – just like I would do – kind of shut off from the world. He made a decision, now it’s time to enjoy his off-season. (I have) a lot of respect for him. I just can’t wait to see him.”
Have you met with new coach David Blatt?
“We had dinner. He was at the dinner when we came to an agreement of terms… I got a chance to meet him and we had lunch in Vegas. For me, it’s just about getting a feel and he seems like a genuine person and he cares about me becoming the best point guard I can be – fulfilling my ultimate potential. That’s what you want to hear from a coach. He told me, obviously, he’s going to want the best for me, but also, he’s going to allow me to be myself and just go out and play.”
What do you make of all of the Kevin Love trade rumors?
“I haven’t really thought about it. This whole free-agent period has been a whirlwind. So many rumors, so many guys who have inside sources… Until it happens and I get a call from our GM, other than that, I haven’t really considered anything.”
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