Kyrie Irving opened up about his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers on “I Am Athlete”. From the outside, many fans believe he has some sort of bitterness towards Cleveland. The former Cavs point guard says the blowback he got from when he left Cleveland helped mold him into who he is today.
“If I was in the same maturity line and understanding of who I am, we definitely would’ve won more championships because there would’ve been a better man-to-man understanding about what I’m going through,” Irving said. “I didn’t know how to share my emotions.”
Irving admitted since he didn’t know how to share his emotions, he just isolated himself during the 2016-2017 playoffs, almost a year after he helped the franchise win their first Larry O’Brien Trophy.
“I just started pouring myself more into the game,” Irving noted. “I had one of my better seasons but I wasn’t connecting with everybody as much during the championship year, so in 2017, it was a different year for us. We went against Golden State; we went against a great team. When you’re not a great team and not clicking on all cylinders and together, you’re easily defeated. You’re defeated before you can get to the arena.”
Irving is at a different place in his life than he was when he asked out of Cleveland at 24-years-old. If he could, Kyrie states he would have spoken to LeBron James about everything.
“We didn’t talk during that time,” Irving admitted. “When I look back on what I was going through at that time, I wish I did because it would’ve been a good understanding of what the future will hold for both of us, and we know how much power we both had together. Me and him in the league together running Cleveland, and then being able to put a better team together every single year would’ve definitely been worth it.”
Kyrie says his decision to leave the Cavs weighed on him for a long time. It took him six years to accept his decision.
“I’d have times where I would play it back in my head and be like, ‘Did I do the right thing? I left one of the best players in the game.’”
He started listening to his own thoughts and what the media was saying, The former No. 1 pick says that’s when you become a shell of yourself.
“You believe you have to be perfect for others when they really don’t give a damn about you, who you are, or if you take another breath or not,” Irving said.
Irving started finding himself and a purpose when he dug into Islam.
“I went through that span where I was reclaiming my power,” the former All-Star Game MVP noted. “I found my tribe, and I reclaimed my identity. I stopped listening to what everybody else was saying about what an athlete is supposed to be, the image that we’re supposed to be every day, why we’re supposed to be doing the things we’re doing. I had to find that purpose.”
Irving will always be a fan favorite for me and thousands of others in the Cleveland area for many reasons, but the biggest reason is “The Shot” remembered around the world that clinched the Cavs their first championship and ended the city’s 52 year championship drought!
I’m glad we now have Kyrie’s point of view on his time in Cleveland. I always felt like we deserved it.
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