The All-Star point guard appeared on ESPN’s First Take on Monday and talked about his trade to the Boston Celtics. Asked if he was happy now, he said he was “ecstatic.”
He said his trade request wasn’t about “wanting to be the man,” claiming he has no ego. Instead, he’s looking forward to “perfecting his craft” and playing his position for a storied NBA franchise.
“I’m looking forward to becoming something that I’ve always envisioned myself being, that’s being a complete point guard on a great team. I want to be able to come off pick and rolls and be able to dissect the defense,” he said.
He said he “relished” his role with the Cavaliers, but: “I’m not just this one-on-one individual that wants to go one-on-one every single time down. That’s not how I appreciate the game.”
Money had no factor in his decision, he said.
“Can’t put a price on happiness and truth,” he said, pointing out that he waived his $5.8 million trade kicker.
As he said in his introductory news conference, Irving said he didn’t talk to James before making his trade request.
“I don’t think that you owe anything to another person in terms of figuring out what you want to do with your life. It’s not anything personal … I’m not here to go at any particular person or the organization because I have nothing but love for Cleveland. I have nothing but love for the times that I spent there,” he said.
He said he “absolutely” believes he can win without James and he feels fortunate that he landed with the Celtics after “I really took a leap of faith with myself” with the trade request.
He emphasized that it will take time for the Celtics to jell this season. Asked what his expectations were this season, he said:
“That’s the kind of difficult question that will be asked throughout probably the entire season until we form our identity. … Only four guys from last year’s team that I played against in the Eastern Conference Finals are returning. So this becomes a totally, totally new, new journey and you have to see it as that. I have expectations and I know we all share that as a group but we don’t know about each other at all. And the only time that we have to figure that out is through training camp and throughout the season,” he said.
However, he was part of an evolving roster in Cleveland and he said he will use that experience in Boston.
“So now you take that same formula that I had the unique opportunity of being a part of and observing every single day and you apply that to another cultural environment that has a culture that’s existed for years and now you try to put your imprint on it,” he said.