CLEVELAND (AP) As he spent six months recovering, Kyrie Irving was drawn to watch replays of an injury that may have cost the Cavaliers an NBA title.
He'll never look at it again.
Just two days after making his season debut after missing 24 games, Irving said Tuesday he is done reviewing a moment that changed his career.
Article continues below ...
''I rewatched the play eight times, and the eighth time I promised myself that I would never watch it again. And that was a span over the six or seven months,'' said Irving, who broke his left kneecap in Game 1 of the NBA Finals in June against Golden State. ''The eighth time, I was like … I'm done watching this. I had to let it go.''
Irving scored 12 points in 18 minutes during his first action in more than six months on Sunday against the Philadelphia 76ers. Although it didn't go as well as he hoped – he described his first game back as ''awful at times'' – Irving is just happy to be back on the floor.
He missed his first five shots in Sunday's 22-point home win before LeBron James fed him for an uncontested layup for his first basket. It brought relief.
''Just a lot of rust, man,'' Irving said of his debut. ''But I kind of expected that. Telling my teammates that it just wasn't in the cards for me to make my first five shots, but it was only right that LeBron caught it at half court, about to go in for a dunk, then he sees me for an easy two – kind of a welcome-back moment and I'm glad I got that out the way, now we can just progress going from game to game.''
Irving expects his minutes to increase in the coming weeks, but he's not going to push things. It's going to be tough to sit out during crucial moments in games, but he realizes it's best for him long-term.
''That's kind of a hard concept to get over right now, just being on that minutes restriction,'' he said. ''Obviously as a competitor you want to be out there in the fourth quarter, but I am under a minute restriction and we'll do our best to fit me in where it best fits for my knee and also my body and the way I'm feeling. I let go of my selfish emotions awhile back. It's about what's best for the team and myself and my health.''
As long as he doesn't have any setbacks on Wednesday against the New York Knicks, he will return to the site of his injury when the Cavs visit Oracle Arena on Christmas Day against the defending champion Warriors.
''No, there's no extra incentive or any extra emotions,'' he said of going back to the Bay Area. ''It's just getting back out there and playing. It'll be a high-level game going against them, going against the Knicks first and foremost, then going into San Francisco obviously the way it went out is definitely a tough one to get across in my mind and accept. But it is what it is. Going against a great Warriors team will be a good test for us. ''