Kyrie Irving is one of the best basketball players on a planet he believes may be flat. He’s a complicated individual whose public statements suggest he has an interesting relationship with reality. The latest example?
Irving reportedly believed he could win championships in Cleveland without LeBron James. The nugget comes from a roundtable discussion between three Cavaliers writers — Jason Lloyd of The Athletic, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. and Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com.
Lloyd: “It has been made clear to me by multiple people, Kyrie never really wanted LeBron to come back (to Cleveland) in the first place. He didn’t think it was necessary. LeBron said something to Kyrie on the court following a game when he was with Miami something to the effect of, ‘Keep going, keep doing what you’re doing. You never know, I could be back here one day.’ And Kyrie basically said, ‘What’s he talking about, we don’t need him.'”
McMenamin: “Kyrie and his camp considered asking for a trade after the championship. They decided to keep it in house and not go forward with it, but it was something they discussed.”
That there was some friction between Irving and James is no surprise. But it’s downright shocking to consider that Irving believed he had the opportunity to compete for championships without the more accomplished hometown hero. The Cavs won 24 and 33 games during Kyrie’s first two years. They looked lost. The supporting cast included Spencer Hawes, Dion Waiters, and Jarrett Jack.
There’s believing in your own abilities and then there’s thinking one of the two best basketball players in history won’t help in the goal of winning games. It’s tough to believe Irving could actually believe this, so perhaps his true desire was to remain the alpha.
The urge to be the Big Man on Campus while sacrificing some team success is not unique. And it’s not a Millennial thing, or a universal thing. Look no further than the Miami Heat, the aforementioned Cavs, or the Golden State Warriors. Most NBA championships since the turn of the century have been won because individual players realized more world-class chefs could be good in the kitchen.
If Irving really said this, I don’t even know what to think anymore. The notion that he could have done it in Cleveland without James is so preposterous. And unlike the flat earth stuff, it’s actually interesting because it reveals a superstar operating in a different reality when it comes to basketball-related matters.
Luckily for Kyrie, the powers-that-be in the front office (and LeBron, by sheer will and force), presented a different reality. One that saw three trips to the NBA Finals and a certain memorable three-pointer. Not getting his way was probably the best thing that ever happened to Irving.