With his trade to the Boston Celtics official, Kyrie Irving posted a four-minute video to social media on Thursday thanking the Cleveland Cavaliers and their fans for the first six years of his NBA career spent with the organization.
"Man, it's hard to make videos like this because you understand the magnitude of decisions that you make in your life can affect a lot of people all at once," a clean-shaven Irving says into the camera, referencing his trade request on July 7 that was finally consummated with a deal to the Celtics late Wednesday night.
Cleveland initially traded Irving for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Brooklyn Nets' unprotected 2018 first-round pick. After concerns about the state of Thomas' injured right hip, the Celtics threw in the Miami Heat's 2020 second-round pick to complete the trade.
"When you get to that point and you understand that the best intentions for you, and ultimately to be in your truth, and find out what you really want to do in your life and how you want to accomplish it -- that moment comes, and you take full advantage of it," said Irving, who will be joining the team that lost 4-1 to the Cavs in the Eastern Conference finals.
Without mentioning him by name, Irving addressed reports that his preference to leave Cleveland was fueled by LeBron James -- both the possibility that James could leave as a free agent in 2018 and the perception that if James does stay, Irving would have to continue to sublimate his game to fit with the four-time MVP.
"There are no other ulterior reasons other than being happy and to be somewhere you feel like it's an environment that's conducive for you maximizing your potential," said Irving, who is drawn to Boston by coach Brad Stevens as much as anything, league sources told ESPN.
"As a human being and as a player perfecting your craft, I put a lot of hours in and a lot of work into just trying to accomplish things that I have dreamt of as a kid. And it started with not only going to Duke, but getting drafted No. 1 -- by Dan Gilbert and his ownership group, Nate Forbes and also 'the bald guy' [Jeff Cohen], as he likes to be called. And their families. And Nick Gilbert actually put in the draft call, which is awesome, because I ended up meeting him at the draft lottery."
Irving blossomed into a four-time All-Star, NBA champion and Olympic gold medalist after the Cavs selected him in 2011 after his lone injury-marred collegiate season. He hit one of the biggest shots in Finals history in Game 7 of the 2016 Finals against the Golden State Warriors, connecting on a pull-up 3-pointer with 53 seconds remaining to give Cleveland the lead for good.
"They took a chance on a 19-year-old kid that was coming off a stubbed right toe, of being in a very, very immature place at the time," Irving said, alluding to the reports of his questionable nightlife habits early in his career. "Because, I mean, what 19-year-old doesn't take their time and make decisions."
"My special thank you to Cleveland" *Link in Bio. My love extends way beyond the court I have for Cleveland and it will always be a place thats special because of the great people and experiences. The Ups and downs, we stand and fight no matter what the circumstances are, and that's what being in Cleveland embodies, it is all Love and a whole lotta pride. To the incredible individuals I've met who support the Cleveland organization and help allow us as Players to feel a special bond to the State/City and shared countless moments with, keep being YOU and know that my appreciation is eternal. Thank you From my whole being for being there as I was a 19 year old kid coming into the league, to now where I start another step in the journey as a 25 year old Evolving man. It will Always be Love and respect Cleveland. "The journey is always the Reward" #KyrieWick
Irving, now 25, waxed philosophical as he continued the extemporaneous video.
"Man, I grew up," he said. "I spent part of my life and my years in the NBA in such a great environment in Cleveland, and being there from the start in 2011, and it now coming to an end in 2017, which is still crazy in my mind.
"But I just want to say that all the individuals that I've met over my six-year span -- and I don't say it as if this is an ending friendship or anything like that -- but you guys understand how much those moments meant to me and connecting with everyone, because it matters, and I care, and I love the world, and I love people, and I love being around people. So, as guarded as I am, and as everyone likes to say that I have a wall up, spending two minutes or five minutes asking someone genuinely about themselves is what I truly care about.
"And to be able to share those moments with just everyone in Cleveland and everyone in Ohio, and doing something that was just the unbelievable experience for all of us. I still can't believe just the feats that we reached in a six-year span, and I'm truly grateful and I'm thankful.
"This is a special video just strictly to Cleveland, and of all of those who are just finding that self-love, and that's what I'm here to bridge the gap for. So, this is a special thank you to Cleveland. I love all you guys' support and all you guys' love over the course of the amount of years I was in Cleveland. And I say that because I know that the journey continues from this point on, and there will be nothing but love that I have for the organization and what we got to be a part of, because there are some special individuals there. And I'm shouting out you guys, and you guys know who you are."
Before finishing the video, Irving turned his attention to his Cavs teammates but did not identify any specific individuals.
"And to my teammates: crazy stories, crazy experiences and just unbelievable human beings, man," Irving said. "You all know how this brotherhood goes, man. All love."
Irving is expected to have his introductory press conference in Boston on Friday, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.