Kyrie Irving Confirms Long-Standing LeBron James Rumor in Interview

Kyrie Irving and Lebron James

Getty LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers and Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets.

When Kyrie Irving speaks, NBA fans listen. Recently, the Brooklyn Nets’ star point guard made headlines when he clapped back at fans who trolled him on a Twitch stream for leaving the Boston Celtics and when he named his greatest player of all time.

And on the May 16 episode of the “I Am Athlete” web series, Irving added fuel to the fire regarding a long-standing rumor about his former teammate LeBron James.

Irving suggested that James was the shadow general manager when they played together on the Cleveland Cavaliers and ultimately won the NBA championship in 2015-16.

“Bron was, like, behind the scenes,” Irving said.

His “I Am Athlete” comments came almost two weeks after he appeared on current teammate Kevin Durant’s “The ETCs” podcast, where he clarified statements he’d made in 2020 implying that Durant was more adept at hitting clutch shots than James was. James responded in December 2020 on Richard Jefferson’s “Road Trippin'” podcast that he was “hurt” by Irving’s statements.

“I was, like, damn. The whole time I was in Cleveland, I only wanted Kyrie to be an MVP in this league. I only cared about his success,” James said. “It kind of hurt me a little bit.”

Eighteen months later, Irving said that the “respected the hell out of” James.

“Shout-out to LeBron, you know what I mean?” Irving said to Eddie Gonzalez on the May 6 episode of “The ETCs.” “He felt like I was slighting him, and I would never slight him in a way that would probably make him go and have to respond to things like that, you know what I mean? I respected the hell out of him. We’ve been through our own battles as teammates, as competitors together. So, like that’s all part of it, bro.”

Kyrie’s Latest Comments on James

In a conversation with former NFL stars Brandon Marshall, LeSean McCoy and Adam “Pacman” Jones on “I Am Athlete,” Irving spoke more about his time in Cleveland with James.

Irving said he and James clicked the year the Cavs won the championship before confirming the rumor that James was the man pulling the strings.

“When me and him clicked in 2015, I had one of the best years of my career. I was All-NBA third team, I shot a high percentage from the field. We were going back and forth as a one-two punch and we had K-Love, Tristan, JR, Shump. … We had players!” Irving said. “Bron was like behind the scenes. What’s his nickname they always call him? The GM?”

Amid laughs and comments from McCoy, Jones and Marshall, Kyrie exclaimed while laughing, “He put the whole squad together.”

The notion that James works behind the scenes to a construct a roster around him may not come as a surprise to NBA fans. But it’s not often that a current or former teammate says as much.

Kyrie Wanted James-Like Power in Brooklyn: Report

Heavy’s own Steve Bulpett wrote on May 13 that Irving wanted roster-building power when he signed with the Nets in 2019.

“When Kyrie signed as a free agent, he basically said, ‘I’ll come and I’ll bring Kevin Durant,’” the source told Bulpett. “And in return, the Nets agreed that he could have a say in the roster decisions.”

Three years later after signing a four-year deal with Brooklyn, Irving and the Nets were swept out of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs by the Boston Celtics and the Nets’ general manager called him out.

Irving is expected to decline his fourth-year player option and become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

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