Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving said in an interview with ESPN that he didn’t connect with LeBron James prior to asking the Cleveland Cavaliers for a trade.
“Why would I have to?” Irving asked during an appearance on First Take. “I think we’re forgetting one important thing: As you sit up here, you guys are professionals, I don’t think you owe anything to another person in terms of figuring out what you want to do with your life. It’s not anything personal.”
Irving requested a trade from the Cavaliers in June following three consecutive appearances in the NBA Finals. But he said his decision to move on had nothing to do with winning.
“It wasn’t about me not wanting to win. It wasn’t anything about that,” he said. “I want to be extremely, extremely happy in perfecting my craft and that was the only intent I have in all of this. I think it got a lot more attention because everything else started coming out from who would think their important opinion matters most.
“I saw previous players, past players and current players speaking on something that had nothing to do with them. Appreciative of their comments, but at the same time, it’s ultimately my decision.”
Irving, 25, was selected by the Cavaliers with the No. 1 overall pick in 2011. He signed an extension with the team in July 2014, just weeks before James announced he would return to the franchise.
Those two, along with Kevin Love, propelled the Cavs to their first championship in 2016 — with Irving burying the franchise’s biggest 3-pointer in Game 7 against the Golden State Warriors.
But after three years of being viewed as sort of a James sidekick, Irving decided it was time to run his own team. He averaged The Cavs received Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, Brooklyn’s 2018 first-round pick and Miami’s 2020 second-rounder from the Celtics.
“I’m not here to go at any particular person or the organization because I have nothing but love for Cleveland and nothing but love for the times I spent there,” Irving said. “It’s nothing about that. There comes a time where you mature as an individual and it’s time to make that decision and there is no looking back from that standpoint and there is no time to figure out how to save someone’s feelings when ultimately you have to be selfish in figuring out what you want to do.”
Irving and the Celtics tip off the entire NBA season against James and the Cavs, in Cleveland, on Oct. 17.