Kyrie Irving’s plan to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers is undisputedly the hottest news in the NBA. Kyrie has distinguished himself as one of the most talented guards and elite players in the game. His spontaneous trade request brings about a very interesting future for the NBA.
Irving was drafted number one overall in 2011, and was boded to be the face of the Cavaliers franchise for years to come. However, when LeBron James returned in 2014, Irving’s prior prophesy of being “the man” in Cleveland was overshadowed by the hype of “The King” coming home. Irving has always had that look in his eye that told the world that he was one of the best in the league, with his playing style and how he carries himself on the court. Coming into the league though, he was young and inexperienced. LeBron’s return had the adverse effect of allowing him to progress and evolve into the unparalleled player that he has become. With the young rising superstar paired up with one of the greatest players of all time along with the plethora of talent that the Cavaliers assembled, an NBA championship was in the purview.
It is every basketball player’s dream to win an NBA championship, and Irving’s sacrificing of superstardom to achieve that dream and advance as a player next to a great role model was tolerable in his mind. He would take the backseat to LeBron for as long as it took to get that NBA title. In 2015, the Cavs made it to the finals, but lost to the Warriors. Coming so close but ultimately failing gave him the will to get revenge, and therefore the will to continue to ride behind LeBron. In 2016, the Cavs won the title back after getting the rematch with the Warriors they were waiting for. Why stop the music if it can keep on playing? That’s what Irving thought as he stayed for another year to try and win back to back championships. However, after losing in the finals to the Warriors again in 2017, Irving must have had an epiphany.
Kyrie Irving is undoubtedly an amazing player and has always showed that, though it seems as if he has something to prove. He wants to show the world what he can truly do, as any amazing player would want. It’s not a personal issue between him and LeBron as the media portrays, but rather, Irving recognizes that he has already won a championship in his prime, and now wishes to expand on his legacy and become one of the greats.
In a press conference, Irving said that he wanted a situation like Damian Lillard’s or John Wall’s; a situation where he could be the centerpiece of a franchise. Lillard actually responded to the comment, saying that he doesn’t understand why Irving would want to leave Cleveland and abandon the opportunity that most players can only dream about; playing with LeBron and being a member of one of the most talented teams the NBA has ever seen. That being said, Lillard and Irving have never been in each other’s shoes, and therefore cannot understand each other’s feelings on the matter. Irving has had the luxury of playing on an elite team and winning a championship, while Lillard has had the time to be the superstar for his franchise. The two players have totally different aspirations and experiences, and so it makes sense that they are unable to empathize with those goals and disagree with each other.
All in all, Kyrie Irving isn’t abandoning Cleveland based off of personal vendetta, he’s doing so because he recognizes the potential he has as a player, and wants to continue forging his legacy to show the world his true capability. There was no interpersonal drama. The drama came because of how the situation was handled. Irving handled it with attitude, which led to LeBron’s involvement, and in turn the media’s firestorm.
As for the fate of Cleveland, I believe it is a good move for both Irving and the team. He gets the potential to live out his aspiration and be the face of a franchise, while the Cavs won’t be brought down by too many superstar egos. If they can replace Irving with a solid point guard and get something else in return on top of that, they will end up being better than they were with Irving. A team can be too good for their own good. With too many superstars on a team, chemistry can become lost, drama can spark, and an efficient flow of play can cease as the stars individually try and control situations within a game. This was clearly seen in the Cavs’ offensive play style. There was too much focus revolving around isolation and not enough team play. This is what doomed them in the 2017 finals. Their play-style was like a scratched record; there wasn’t a smooth flow of play because of the competing egos.
Kyrie Irving’s trade demand yields good news for his and the Cavs’ future. At first glance, Irving’s departure can stop a Cavs fan’s heart, but by taking an optimistic outlook of the situation, a positive future can be seen for both sides. Cleveland can become a more balanced, cohesive team, and Kyrie Irving can show the world what he can truly do.