One of the most talented NBA duos of all-time was Kyrie Irving and LeBron James on the Cleveland Cavaliers. While the two of them certainly had a ton of success together, they didn’t have as much success as they potentially could have had due to Irving requesting a trade after just playing with James for three seasons. Not many people really know the ins and outs of their relationship, but James recently admitted that his feelings got hurt due to some comments that Irving recently made.
LeBron James and Kyrie Irving won a championship together
LeBron James played with the Cleveland Cavaliers for the first seven seasons of his career before he ultimately went to the Miami Heat in 2010-11. This led to the Cavaliers ultimately selecting Irving with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft.
Irving then had three excellent seasons with the Cavaliers from 2011-12 through 2013-14, winning the Rookie of the Year award in 2011-2, and earning All-Star selections the next two seasons after that. However, James returned to the Cavaliers in 2014-15 to form a super team with Irving and Kevin Love.
Both James and Irving had excellent seasons in 2014-15. They then led the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors that year, but Irving suffered an injury in Game 1 of the series, which led to the Cavaliers losing in six games.
James, Irving, and the Cavaliers then had another great year in 2015-16, as they reached the NBA Finals yet again. This time, though, the two of them led the Cavaliers to an NBA championship over the Warriors after trailing 3-1 in the series. James averaged 29.7 points per game, 11.3 rebounds, and 8.9 assists in that series and Irving averaged 27.1 points per game.
James and Irving then led the Cavaliers back to the NBA Finals the next season, but the Warriors had Kevin Durant, which led to the Cavs losing in five games. After that year, though, Irving then reportedly requested a trade from the Cavaliers.
Kyrie Irving made controversial comments about his former teammate
Kyrie Irving now plays with Kevin Durant on the Brooklyn Nets. He went on Durant’s podcast, The Etcs, days prior to James and the LA Lakers playing in Game 2 of the 2020 NBA Finals, and ultimately said this.
“One thing I’ve always been comfortable with, I felt like I was the best option on every team I played for down the stretch,” Irving said, according to ESPN. “This is the first time in my career I’ve looked down and be like, ‘That motherf***** can make that shot too.’ And he’ll probably do it a lot easier.”
He continued: “It’s not so much deferring, because in past situations where I didn’t take the last shot, I felt guilty. I want this game-winning shot, but also, you want to trust your teammates. Not that I didn’t trust my teammates, but I felt like I was the best option.”
According to the New York Post, Irving later denied that the comments were meant to be a jab at James.
LeBron James admits that the comments hurt him
Whether Irving meant for his comments to be a diss toward James or not, they were, in fact, pretty disrespectful toward James.
James recently appeared on the Road Trippin’ podcast and admitted that the comments hurt him.
“Once I got the whole transcript, I was like, ‘Damn,'” James said, according to ESPN. “I wasn’t like, ‘Oh, you trippin’. I’ve hit game-winning shots my whole life.’ I was not like that. I was like, ‘Damn.’ Because … I played with Kyrie for three seasons. The whole time when I was there, I only wanted to see him be a MVP of our league. I only cared about his success. And it just didn’t align. It just didn’t align. And we were able to win a championship. That’s the craziest thing. We were still able to win a championship, and we could never align. But I only cared about his well-being, both on and off the floor.”
He continued: “And it kind of hurt me a little bit.”
James also said that the timing was disappointing, with the comments coming out during the NBA Finals.
“It was a f***** up time. It was a f***** up time,” James said. “Because it was the Finals … the middle of the Finals.”
James and Irving’s relationship has been confusing ever since Irving reportedly requested a trade. This just adds to the speculation about it. We’ll see if Irving, who is not speaking to the media this season, responds to what James has now said.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference