DALLAS — Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic led the Dallas Mavericks to a 114-101 Game 6 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night. The win ultimately clinched a series victory over LA, as the Mavs will battle the Oklahoma City Thunder in the second-round of the NBA playoffs.

Kyrie once again had a slow first-half but heated up in the third quarter. He ultimately finished the game with 30 points, six rebounds, and four assists. Meanwhile, Doncic added 28 points, seven rebounds, and 13 assists.

Irving's perception over the years has been negative at times. He has dealt with off-the-court controversies in the past. Kyrie has been embraced by Mavericks fans so far, though, which is something he discussed after the game.

Kyrie Irving gets real on perception

Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving (11) looks down during the first quarter against the LA Clippers during game six of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at American Airlines Center.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

“I've been in this league for a while now,” Irving said. “I'm just grateful for those that have been with me since the beginning, those who are still rocking with me now, all the new supporters. I'm grateful for them. It's a whole new generation that's watching me now so I'm aware of that. Very responsible with what I say and what I do and how I approach my day to day life. As a young person, I can say this, I wasn't really thinking about any of that.

“I really didn't have the understanding of who I was as a person to myself. I had to figure that out. Then, what you're seeing now is just a version of me that I'm proud of. I look at myself everyday in the mirror, I give myself affirmations. I meditate, I pray. I'm just more consistent with my daily practices to help me stay grounded and balanced. Part of knowing who you are is knowing where you come from. Been on a spiritual journey… Basketball was sometimes not the priority. But I was in season. Things probably got mixed up emotionally.”

Irving is thankful for all of his fans whether they are new fans who started following him with the Mavericks, or fans who have supported him for years now. He also wants to be a role model for the “new generation.”

Kyrie Irving added that he feels like he may have been “pre-judged” in the past.

“I think people pre-judged me without knowing who I was, knowing who I am, not really knowing where my family comes from. All that is just part of the process of growing up in this world… It's not time to blame anybody or hold grudges. I just look at it as an opportunity to help the next generation see that. You can make it through the fire and still rise like a phoenix.”

Jason Kidd has Kyrie's back

 Dallas Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd talks with guard Kyrie Irving (11) during the first quarter against the Sacramento Kings at the American Airlines Center.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Mavs head coach Jason Kidd was also asked about Irving's perception following the game. Kidd has known Kyrie for a long time and is a fan of Irving both on and off the court. Unsurprisingly, Kidd had nothing but positive things to say about the Mavericks star.

“I don't think anybody has written that of late. We're all human, we're all going to make mistakes,” Kidd said. “But when you look at Kai we don't see that perception of what's been written in the past. We're only in the present. And what he's doing he's re-writing his journey and you can see that. When we got him, people didn't think he was gonna fit with Luka, that changed quickly.

“But I've known Kai a lot longer than most. He knows how to play the game the right way. We all have our own opinions about different things. He's worldly which is a beautiful thing too. Most of us aren't. We're just stuck in our sport. But he can talk about other things and sometimes that scares people.”

Kyrie Irving is unquestionably making a big impact on the Mavericks. Kyrie and Luka have become one of the best duos in the entire league, and they both lead in different manners. And the ways in which they lead have helped the Mavericks become a legitimate contender in the Western Conference.

“I think what he's (Irving) done for us, he's a leader and he's teaching these young men how to be pros,” Kidd continued. “And that's something that we needed.”