BOSTON (CBS) — With the Celtics and Cavaliers set to clash for the second time this season, we’re learning some more interesting tidbits about Kyrie Irving’s surprise departure from Cleveland.
The NBA world was shocked by the blockbuster the Celtics and Cavs pulled off over the summer, and a lot of that stemmed from Irving “requesting” a trade from a perennial title contender.Who in their right mind would want to leave a team that had been to the last three NBA Finals?
LeBron James was a big part of it, just not in the way you might think. In his first extensive comments about the trade since this summer, Irving told ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan that he felt his time in Cleveland was coming to an end, and he believes James was behind it. Irving said a divorce between him and the Cavs was “inevitable,” and it really wasn’t his decision.
“They didn’t want me there,” Irving told MacMullan.
That feeling came from an attempt by the Cavaliers to trade Irving well ahead of their swap with Boston. It was mid-June when Cleveland explored a three-team trade with the Phoenix Suns and Indiana Pacers that would have landed them both Eric Bledsoe and Paul George for Irving and Channing Frye. No formal offers were made, but Irving was hurt by the talks, convinced that it was LeBron James’ camp (who also represent Bledsoe) that initiated the trade discussions.
While he and James were never the best of friends, that turned a bitter situation even more sour. Irving says the story line that he requested a trade from the Cavaliers is “distorted” because the team had already tried to trade him at that point.
“But there’s a misconception how all this went down,” Irving says. “I was traded to Boston. I had no say at all in where they sent me. There were no conversations like, ‘OK, this is an opportunity we can pursue.’ It wasn’t a recruitment process.”
In the piece, former Cavaliers head coach Byron Scott explained the unique and mercurial as a player who “gets bored after a couple of years.”
“He’s wired differently than most. He needs to be stimulated. He needs another adventure,” said Scott.
That adventure is now in Boston, where Irving has helped lead the Celtics to a 30-10 record heading into Wednesday night’s showdown with his former team. Both he and the team are off to a phenomenal start despite losing Gordon Hayward on opening night (another interesting topic that Irving opens up about with MacMullan), and Irving couldn’t be happier.
“At times throughout your career, you take things for granted. I’m realizing as long as you take advantage of moments with great people you can learn from and then apply those to your life going forward, that’s where fulfillment comes in,” he said.
“I’m taking full advantage of this learning experience of being with this new group, this franchise. This is a long process, and I’m just happy to be part of it,” he added.
Irving hasn’t said much about his relationship with James since arriving in Boston. But if he believes it was LeBron’s work that started his breakup with Cleveland, their rivalry just got a lot juicier.