The majority of discussion about Kyrie Irving’s shocking trade request from the Cavaliers has been about where Irving will end up, and what Cleveland will get in return. The Cavs are reportedly asking for a significant haul in return for Irving, which is understandable considering he’s a 25-year-old All-Star player with two years left on his deal, but to this point no team has ponied up the combination of picks, assets, and veterans that Cleveland desires.
We don’t know where Irving will go, what the Cavs will look like without him, or even when he’ll get dealt — Dan Gilbert said he expects Irving to be at training camp in September, which would make for some incredibly awkward moments. What we do know is that Irving’s relationship with LeBron James has soured, with Irving apparently wanting to be out from under James’ shadow, and the young point guard seems to be poking the bear on his way out — most recently by cheering on Steph Curry as he did LeBron’s workout dance from earlier this summer.
For that, we should all thank Kyrie. James came into this summer with plenty of motivation after getting rocked by the Warriors in the Finals and having to see Draymond Green at the Warriors victory parade taking jabs at him. James is no stranger to a rival taking shots at him, and that would have given him motivation to ensure he got the Cavs to the Finals once again to get another crack at Golden State. What Kyrie has done is something James has never truly experienced, and it offers him a different level of motivation to exact revenge.
No teammate has ever said they wanted to stop playing with LeBron. Few superstars have ever been lauded as being a better teammate than James. His unselfishness and willingness to make the smart play or pass — to the chagrin of his critics — makes him as easy to play with as any top superstar that’s ever been in the league. He prides himself on that and you’ll never hear his two most famous teammates, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, speak so much as an ill word of their time with James in Miami, despite him leaving four years after starting what many felt could be a dynasty.