Kyrie Irving once avoided a coach by giving him the wrong phone number, but Kobe Bryant ultimately intervened

Kyrie Irving has become one of the most respected goalies in the NBA. Everyone knows he’s at the box office, and when he gets the chance he’s one of the league’s most eye-catching players. However, during his early NBA years with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Irving was not very welcoming to all the coaches who came to Cleveland. In fact, it even caused him to give a coach the wrong number so he could try to avoid it.

That was until Kobe Bryant got involved.

Kyrie Irving tried to avoid Phil Handy on the Cavs

The Cavs drafted Kyrie Irving with the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, and he became a star in Cleveland. He won the 2011-12 NBA Rookie of the Year award and was an All-Star in his second season only.

However, the Cavs weren’t very good as a team. They went 21-45 and 24-58 in Irving’s first two seasons, which led them to part ways with head coach Byron Scott. Irving then had his second coach in just three seasons when the Cavaliers hired Mike Brown, who was also their head coach when they went to the final with LeBron James in 2007.

Along with Brown came Phil Handy, an assistant coach who has been on the Cavs, Los Angeles Lakers and Toronto Raptors. And Handy basically said Irving wasn’t too welcoming when he first arrived.

“Ky was slippery, bruh; it was slippery, ”Handy said in the June 17 episode of All the smoke. “When I first arrived in Cleveland, Ky tried to hit me with the wrong phone number and not answer calls. It was slippery, and rightly so. He didn’t know me. … I did a workout with Kyrie, then he disappeared, gave me a number he never checked.

Irving’s agent did not respond to a request for comment before posting regarding Irving giving Handy the wrong number.

Handy, who had a good relationship with Kobe Bryant, then decided to reach out to the Lakers legend.

“I knew he respected Kob, and Kob really liked his game, so I just hit Kob one day,” Handy said. “I said, ‘Look, man, I need you to mentor this kid. Like, I really need you to go and, if you’re okay, give her some energy. He was like, ‘Bet; I got you. I love it.'”

Handy then said he flew to Miami to finally talk to Irving, and he told him to call Bryant.

“He did, and they went to the races,” Handy said.

Kyrie has built a strong bond with Kobe Bryant

Lakers Kobe Bryant (left to right) guard Kyrie Irving of the Cavs on March 10, 2016. | Harry Comment / Getty Images

Irving and Bryant eventually formed a close bond after this.

The playmaker even discussed what the Lakers legend meant to him after Bryant died in 2020.

“I had this mentoring relationship with him, where I got to ask him almost anything,” Irving said in 2020, according to ESPN. “You know no matter how nervous I was or how scared I was, it was just easy to approach with these type of questions about what goes on in everyday life to hunt something that is bigger than you. and when you’re trying to leave a legacy or something of a mark on a game. “

According to Handy, Irving’s state of mind changed after he started working with Bryant.

“Kob really took care of it, and Ky, man, just joined in on the job,” Handy said. “It changed his whole approach to the game, and [helped him] just understand how to take care of your body. … But then challenge him to figure out what the job means to your game. And once he saw that, it was over. He just took it to a whole new level.

Another level, indeed.

Kyrie Irving has become one of the best players in the NBA

Working with Bryant ultimately helped Irving become one of the best players in the NBA.

He made three consecutive NBA Finals with LeBron James and the Cavaliers from 2014-15 to 2016-17 and was one of the main reasons they won the title in 2015-16. He ultimately pulled off the winning shot with less than a minute to go in Game 7 of the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors that year, and had several great performances throughout that series.

Irving has won seven All-Star caps in his career and averaged over 20.0 points in all but two seasons. The 2020-21 campaign has also been arguably Irving’s best, averaging 26.9 points for the Brooklyn Nets, a career high in a season he has played more than 20 games. He also recorded 6.0 assists, 4.8 rebounds and hit a career-high 50.6% on the field.

Irving may not have wanted anything to do with Handy at first, but the coach’s connection with Bryant eventually paid off for Irving and his career.

Irving is now an NBA superstar.

Statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference

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