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Kyrie: 'I'm grateful for my time' with Cavaliers

Jason Miller / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving expressed gratitude for his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers while visiting Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse as an opposing player.

"Every time I come into this building, I look up at that banner, and it just brings me back to all those emotions," Irving said after Tuesday's 121-119 loss to the Cavaliers. "I'm just grateful for my time here, and I really wanna get that across to the Cavs fans, Cavs organization. I'm truly grateful that I had the opportunity to grow up here and look back on my time and be really happy and be really proud."

Irving scored 30 points, six rebounds, and three assists in his return to the place he spent the first six seasons of his career.

Cleveland drafted the former Duke guard with the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. He was named Rookie of the Year and became a two-time All-Star before LeBron James returned to the franchise in 2014. The tandem helped bring the team back to relevance: The Cavaliers came back from a 3-1 series deficit in the 2016 NBA Finals to capture the franchise's first title.

Irving requested a trade after the 2017 season, reportedly seeking a bigger role with a different team. The Cavaliers traded him to the Boston Celtics, where he spent two largely unsuccessful campaigns. He left for the Brooklyn Nets in 2019, playing 143 games over 3.5 seasons before being traded to the Mavericks in February of last year.

Irving ranks sixth in assists and eighth in points in Cavaliers history.

The Mavericks lost the contest after Cavs wing Max Strus sank a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from beyond half court.

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