Kyrie Irving almost forgets he’s LeBron’s teammate while praising Kobe Bryant

LeBron, please forgive Kyrie.

Irving, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ young backcourt star, had just watched 36-year-old Kobe Bryant play point guard better than him, and he was pretty star-struck. Bryant had a career-high 17 assists to go with 19 points Thursday night, and Kyrie didn’t need any prompting in the postgame interview before he began gushing about the Mamba.

"You got one of the, if not THE greatest player playing our game right now," Irving started, before catching himself. "Between him and ‘Bron."

Uh, Kyrie, hello? Maybe you wanna give the edge to your teammate LeBron James … who scored 36 points … blew by Bryant for the clinching bucket in the Cavs’ 109-102 win … and who, at 30, is generally considered the best player in the world, while Bryant is watching his 19-year career wind down, sitting out games to rest his legs and shooting 37 percent for a lottery-bound Lakers team.

Kobe couldn’t help talking about LeBron, even after losing.

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"If we were contending for a championship, I’d be my same moody self," Bryant said. "But right now, I tend to have a little more perspective, knowing I really won’t get a chance to play against him for much longer. So you want to enjoy it."

Hey, we can’t be too hard on Kyrie. LeBron also praised Kobe after the game, calling the two of them "two of the best competitors this game has probably ever seen."

But LeBron didn’t say anything about, you know, Kobe being one of the best players in the game right now. Or anything about Irving being one of the best teammates.