For three years, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving were among the most dynamic duos in the NBA - leading the Cleveland Cavaliers three straight Finals appearances, including an NBA Championship triumph in 2016.
But after the Cavaliers were dispatched by the Golden State Warriors in last year's NBA Finals, Irving requested a trade - citing his desire to be the 'focal point' of an offense. Translation: He was tired of living in LeBron's shadow, and Irving wanted to be the no. 1 guy elsewhere.
Irving got traded to the Boston Celtics in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic plus two draft picks. Thomas and Crowder were dealt at the deadline, while James departed in free agency to join the Los Angeles Lakers. So it's safe to say that Boston has already won the trade.
But as it turns out, Irving was never ecstatic about working with LeBron, the best player of his era. Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com, Dave McMenamin from ESPN and The Athletic's Jason Lloyd were on 92.3 The Fan (h/t CBS Sports), and explained that Irving was not thrilled about James returning to Cleveland in 2014.
Lloyd: "It has been made clear to me by multiple people, Kyrie never really wanted LeBron to come back (to Cleveland) in the first place. He didn't think it was necessary.
LeBron said something to Kyrie on the court following a game when he was with Miami something to the effect of, 'Keep going, keep doing what you're doing. You never know, I could be back here one day.' And Kyrie basically said, 'What's he talking about, we don't need him.'"
McMenamin: "Kyrie and his camp considered asking for a trade after the championship. They decided to keep it in house and not go forward with it, but it was something they discussed."
Irving got his wish and is now playing for a team that was one win away from reaching the NBA Finals last season. Had he decided not to leave Cleveland, it's certainly possible LeBron would have given his hometown team another chance to stop the Warriors.
But it wasn't meant to be. Irving is among the many NBA legends who grew tired of playing with another star (hello, Shaquille O'Neal), and went to shine on another team.
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