The Kyrie Irving to Los Angeles Lakers chorus has begun ahead of the NBA’s free agency period, this summer.
Many believe that Irving could re-join former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate, LeBron James and don the purple and gold.
Is this too far-fetched? Is the media going overboard?
“I don’t think the media is making too much of it at all,” FS1’s Chris Broussard told me two weeks ago on the Scoop B Radio Podcast.
“I mean, you demanded a trade from LeBron James and his team and, you know, then, two years later, you call him up and you admitted, unsolicited, you brought it up yourself to the media that you called him and apologized to him for being that stubborn, young teammate, so I think that’s a big story.”
While James and Irving is a great kitchen table conversation, a couple of weeks ago, a league source told me by phone not to sleep on the notion that Irving may actually have a loyalty to another big market: New York City.
A native of West Orange, NJ, a stones throw from the skyline of New York City, Irving did grow up liking the then-New Jersey Nets when they ran the NBA’s Eastern Conference during the days of Jason Kidd, Kenyon Martin and Richard Jefferson.
He was a fan of Kidd.
“Not many people have that niche and that feel for the game,” Kyrie Irving told me after Kidd was hired as the Brooklyn Nets’ head coach in 2013.
“Watching him play was a pleasure.”
That Nets team that made back to back trips to the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003 was coached by Byron Scott who lived in Livingston, NJ; a neighboring town to West Orange, during his Nets coaching tenure.
Scott would later coach Irving earlier in his career with the Cavaliers.
Irving’s dad, Drederick is a native New Yorker from the borough of the Bronx; as is Irving’s godfather, Rod Strickland.
Strickland had seen Irving dribble the ball from time to time in the backyard and used to tell Drederick Irving, “He’s going to make you some money.”
The first time Strickland saw Irving play in an actual game was when he was in high school when ironically he played in LeBron James’ camp, where Irving put on an absolute show.
“My first eyes on Kyrie as a hooper, I saw him play in Springfield, Massachusetts,” Strickland told me this summer on the Scoop B Radio Podcast.
“I mean in a competitive setting, he was at St. Pats, and then I saw him at the LeBron James camp. And once I saw him at the LeBron James camp, I mean he was ridiculous. I saw the right hand, the left hand, all the layups and how he maneuvered.
“He made passes, but he was such a gifted scorer and ball-handler that he could put the ball in the hole. But I knew he was special right away. There are some things that everybody’s not doing, so when I see somebody play with both hands, the way he was playing with it in high school, that’s special. You don’t see that a lot.”
There’s a lot of time between now and July 1 where Irving says he will ultimately make his decision of his next moves.
Irving’s ties to Boston ran deep even before he arrived in the bean.
His father played basketball at Boston University. It’s been rumored that the eldest Irving had a tryout with the Celtics before opting to play overseas basketball.
Additionally, Irving has mentored Harvard guard, Bryce Aiken since high school.
“I encourage him to watch other players so he can get better,” Irving told me of Aiken.
“He has this old-school feel. He’s fundamentally sound.”
As for Irving, you have to trust him at his word. Some have suggested he and Kevin Durant could ultimately be teammates.
I can tell you that with my interactions with both of them that they are both very good friends and cheer each other on in their respective careers.
When asked in October if he will re-sign with the Celtics, he replied: “If you guys will have me back, I plan on re-signing here.”
Recently he was asked the same question and he stated, “Ask me July 1.”
“Obviously, Boston’s still at the head of that race,” he said.
“At the end of the day, I’m going to do what’s best for me and my career. I don’t owe anybody (expletive).”