Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving and Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James will forever be linked. Earlier in their careers, the two All-Stars headlined the Cleveland Cavaliers as one of the most explosive duos in NBA history.
Irving and LeBron were a part of the historic Cavaliers team that came back from a 3-1 deficit in the 2016 NBA Finals to beat the 73-9 Golden State Warriors, who were the defending NBA champions at the time. Although LeBron was named the Most Valuable Player of the Finals, Irving hit the biggest shot of the series. He netted a go-ahead three over reigning two-time NBA Most Valuable Player, Stephen Curry, to seal the historic win for Cleveland and the only title of his career.
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LeBron ‘Adamant’ About Lakers Trading for Kyrie
After a disappointing 2022 season where they did not qualify to make the playoffs, the Lakers will be looking for revenge this season as LeBron and company are hopeful to be among the top title contenders in 2023. According to Jovan Buha of “The Athletic”, LeBron believes that Kyrie is the missing piece that the Lakers need to get over the hump.
“Those around the team were confident that James signing an extension was likely, considering how much he’s enjoyed playing for the Lakers and living in Los Angeles. The primary complication in James’ decision was that he has been privately adamant that the Lakers still need to improve the current roster and trade for superstar point guard Kyrie Irving, league sources have told The Athletic,” Buha writes.
“There was a belief among some that James might refrain from signing the extension quickly as a leverage play. James could’ve twisted the Lakers’ proverbial arm, applying pressure to make a trade, similar to the way he has operated in the past. Instead, he committed for at least the next two seasons, regardless of if the Lakers trade Russell Westbrook or how they fare this season.”
Kyrie Clears Air on Beef With LeBron
After losing to the Golden State Warriors in the 2017 NBA Finals, Irving abruptly requested a trade from the Cavaliers. Multiple reports suggested the reason for his trade request was because he no longer wanted to play in LeBron’s shadow.
To pour even more salt in the wound, in 2020, Irving did an interview, praising Durant for his ability to hit big shots in clutch moments. But LeBron took exception to Kyrie’s praise for Durant, as it was perceived by many as a shot at the Lakers star.
During a May 4 interview on Boardroom’s “The ETCs” podcast, Kyrie attempted to shed light on the drama between him and the LeBron. Irving reiterated that his comments were not a shot at LeBron, emphasizing that he “respected the hell” out of his former Cavaliers teammate
“Shout out to LeBron, you know what I mean. 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,” Irving said to Eddie Gonzalez on “The ETCs”.
“It’s all fun, but when you gotta — like, when you gotta — go and communicate through alternative channels, that only makes things worse. You feel me? You know what I mean? That’s like water under the bridge in terms of how people perceive what’s being said and then how I actually meant it.”
At this juncture, all signs point to Irving remaining with the Nets next season. It will be interesting to see if things change course before the start of training camp.