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Kyrie Irving reflected on time with Cavaliers after team’s tribute video

Kyrie Irving not only returned to the court Wednesday night with the Brooklyn Nets following a two-week absence for personal reasons, the superstar point guard also played his first game in Cleveland since forcing his way off the Cavaliers in 2017.

The Cavaliers celebrated Irving’s return to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse with a tribute video during the first quarter, and the team’s No. 1 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft clearly appreciated the gesture.

In response to the tribute — which included his championship-clinching three-pointer in the 2016 NBA Finals — Irving pointed to his ring finger in a nod to that very title he won alongside LeBron James, Kevin Love and company in 2016.

After a game in which the Cavaliers spoiled the first game featuring Nets’ newly formed Big Three of Irving, Kevin Durant and James Harden with a 147-135 victory in double overtime, the enigmatic guard reflected on his six seasons in Cleveland.

“I was drafted here and we had a few good pieces, you might say, and that’s being generous,” Irving said in a Zoom call with reporters after the game, via WKYC. “We were at the bottom and we had to start and work our way up. When [LeBron James] came back in my fourth year after killing it in Miami and doing what he was doing and he came and then [Kevin Love] came and just the ball got rolling really really quickly.”

Irving’s unceremonious departure from Cleveland — which proved to be a culmination of the mercurial star’s boiled-over frustrations of playing second fiddle while relegated to an existence in LeBron’s sizable shadow — could not have been uglier. Still, it’s clear Irving has great memories from his time with the Cavs, and for good reason.