Drilling a dagger three in the closing moments of Game 7 of the NBA Finals, Kyrie Irving's clutch performance helped the Cleveland Cavaliers win their first championship in franchise history. Rather fittingly, after winning the title Irving reached out to one of the NBA's all-time clutch time performers -- Kobe Bryant.
In an interview with ThePostGame.com, Irving revealed that after celebrating with his teammates and family, he picked up his phone and FaceTimed Bryant, who happily congratulated the Cavs star on winning the championship:
"I actually FaceTimed Kobe after the game as soon as I got in the locker room," Irving says. "Other than seeing my dad and my sister right after we won, FaceTiming him was just a great thing, knowing how he has won five and I just won my first. Then realizing how hard it is just to win one, my respect for him is already high, but it went to another level knowing that he's got five of them. I'm trying to get a second one."
Irving credits Phil Handy, who was also on the FaceTime, for sparking his relationship with Bryant. Handy serves as Cavs Director of Player Development/Assistant Coach, a position he has held since 2013, previously serving as Lakers Director of Player Development.
"[Bryant] was telling me congrats," Irving says of the FaceTime. "I had been speaking to him throughout the entire playoffs and during the season. During the Finals, we didn't really talk as much, because for me, I wanted to experience it full on, and if I needed his help, I would reach out to him. He would send me some texts here and there, but mainly he kind of let me be, and let me grow into my own space."
Irving's and Bryant's relationship first started when they were both part of Team USA's minicamp before the start of the 2012 Olympics. Irving was not yet the star he's become and had boastfully challenged Bryant to a game of 1-on-1, which ultimately never happened, and the Lakers great has truly seemed to enjoy Irving's bravado ever since then.
Bryant is always perceived as ultra-focused on his own individuality yet he has inspired hundreds of players throughout his career and especially in his later years, and has always been more than happy to lend a helping hand or offer up some thoughtful advice when asked. Irving clearly did that. For Irving to celebrate his first championship through the wonders of modern technology with the Lakers great shows just how big an influence Bryant has had on the younger generation of NBA stars.