Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Kyrie Irving says he hasn’t spoken to LeBron James, but had ‘unique opportunity to play with one of the greats’
Kyrie Irving says he hasn’t spoken with LeBron James since he requested a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers, but called James “one of the greats” in NBA history.
“No, I haven’t spoken to him,” Irving said at the introductory press conference for himself and Gordon Hayward with the Boston Celtics in response to a question from ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.
Led by James and Irving, the Cavs reached three straight NBA Finals, winning the title in 2016 and losing to Golden State in 2015 and ’17.
Yet Irving requested a trade following this year’s loss to the Warriors after sources in his camp said his relationship with James had become irreparable. The trade went down on Aug. 22, but wasn’t completed until this week when the Celtics agreed to include a 2020 second-round pick after the Cavs expressed concern over Isaiah Thomas’ health.
“My intent, like I said, was for my best intentions and to look back at the amount of ground we covered in the last three-year span or even before that because we had a prior relationship,” Irving added. “To really realize how special that was and how much growth happened in that amount of time, I’d be sitting up here and telling you guys a lie if I didn’t tell you how much I learned from that guy.
“The perfection of the craft comes in a variety of forms and you watch and you watch and you ask a lot of the great players, what does it take to be great? And I’ve had the unique opportunity to play with one of the greats and it was awesome.”
Still, Irving hinted that there were some ups and downs in the relationship.
“At times it was all over, just it is in any other time,” he said. “When you look back and you’re eternally grateful for the moments that you’ve had and that you’ve shared, you’re able to put peace with that journey and start anew. And this was a very, very challenging decision at first but after a while you understand you have that confidence in yourself to understand the magnitude of what you can accomplish, and potentially you can do with other great people. And now that I’m sitting here, it just echoes in terms of me being very appreciative of not only the Cleveland fans, all of Ohio, as well as ‘Bron in incorporating me into that special team we had in Cleveland because, I mean, three finals in a row, all the shared memories with individuals….they all know how I feel about them individually as well as the amount of love we have for one another. The brotherhood exists even without all this, and it will continue.”
All eyes will be on Irving and James when the Celtics visit the Cavs to open the NBA season Oct. 17.
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.