How Kobe motivated Kyrie to beat Dubs in 2016 NBA Finals originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
The 2016 NBA Finals between the Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers proved to be one of the most memorable playoff series in recent memory, and it turns out Kobe Bryant played a major role in providing motivation for Kyrie Irving to defeat the Golden State powerhouse.
As he streamed himself playing NBA2K on Wednesday, Irving explained how the late Los Angeles Lakers legend’s faith in the Warriors reaffirmed his own belief that the Cavaliers would earn their first — and only — NBA title in 2016.
“He gave me some extra motivation, man, in the most Kobe way,” Irving told his viewers during the live stream. “He was like, ‘Man, I think Golden State’s definitely going to win a championship this year.’”
Irving was incredulous as Bryant spoke, he said.
“Bro, can you imagine Kobe saying this? This is like, my hero,” Irving said. “… We’re at dinner bro and this dude says this s–t to me, man. I’m looking at this dude like, bro, what?”
Irving has plenty of history with the Warriors, having played against Golden State in three straight Finals from 2015 to 2017.
The Warriors infamously blew a 3-1 lead against Cleveland in 2016, with Irving nailing a tough, game-winning 3-pointer over Steph Curry in Game 7 that has now become one of the most iconic shots in NBA history.
It’s almost like Irving could see the future during his conversation with Bryant.
“I looked [Bryant] straight in his eye and I said, ‘No they’re not. What are you talking about?’” Irving recalled.
The Brooklyn Nets star said on his live stream that Bryant believed the Cavaliers and Warriors matched up well against each other in 2016, but that Golden State had a “really good” team that year and had a good chance to take the title.
A big reason Bryant believed the 2016 Warriors were a force to be reckoned with was their “Baby Faced Assassin.”
“I said, ‘They’re not f–king winning this year. We’re going to win this s–t,’” Irving said. “…And he was like, ‘Man, I mean Steph is killing it this year.’”
RELATED: Klay shared Kobe message with young Warriors before playoffs
Curry won his second NBA MVP award in 2016 after finishing the regular season with an average of 30.1 points, 6.7 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game. That was more than enough to earn the respect of not only Bryant but Irving as well.
“I’m like, ‘I’m not trying to hear about Steph right now, bro,’” Irving said he told Bryant. “’I respect the s–t out of Steph, but I’m going to smack at him.’”
The past is in the past, but it’s hard not to wonder how the 2016 NBA Finals might have ended up had Bryant not lit a fire under Irving.
Download and follow the Dubs Talk Podcast