JASON WHITLOCK: Gotta say, I’m with Kyrie on this. I don’t think he needed to reach out to LeBron James before making this request. Why should he? LeBron James does all kinds of moves without consulting his teammates. Kyrie Irving went to management. Remember when LeBron left Cleveland the first time and didn’t tell Dan Gilbert, anybody, and just bounced? Kyrie manned up, went to management. I want out of here. He don’t owe Lebron that explanation.
COLIN COWHERD: I have a rule on life. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you, especially when the hand has three rings on it. There’s going to be a point. LeBron has huge capital in this league. Owners, GMS, players agents. Kyrie in Boston, they win the East. They can’t beat Golden State, they can’t be Golden State. Now when Lebron’s a Laker, we need one more star. Lebron’s like, bro, I played with him. Head case. Bailed.
JASON WHITLOCK: Hit the game winning shot.
KRISTINE LEAHY: What makes you think that Kyrie would even want to play with him again? He clearly doesn’t want to.
COLIN COWHERD: Not playing with LeBron. I’m saying, people, players in this league go to LeBron, all the time. He controls the ESPYs, he controls political movements, all the time.
JASON WHITLOCK: That’s the older group.
COLIN COWHERD: He’s got a lot of power.
JIM JACKSON: Well here’s the thing. The thing I love about Kyrie, if you look at his body language. He already knew exactly how he’s going to approach this interview. He’s going to be defiant. And I love the part where I don’t owe him anything. I don’t have to. Now you don’t have to. But when you are engaged in a relationship like if you’re really cool. You’re going to tell somebody you’re cool with them leaving.
Obviously to me, and I look back at this and I said this from the beginning, before we judge Kyrie, let’s give him a chance to speak. Before we try to interpret everything, allow him to speak about the situation. Because this thing has been going on 2, 3, 4, 3 years, OK. So he told you right there in that interview, LeBron and my relationship really wasn’t that tight.
Now keep in mind, LeBron’s relationship with D. Wade was extremely tight, and LeBron didn’t tell D. Wade he was leaving. D. Wade took a pay cut so they could sign LeBron to a max deal. So in a perfect world, you’re going to say yes, you do owe. You should tell them. But that’s not how it works.
JASON WHITLOCK: He’s got no response to that.
KRISTINE LEAHY: It goes both ways. We criticize the banana boat culture. And these guys being too good of friends, and it isn’t how it used to be, where they really had grit, and they fought each other. And then when Kyrie decides to do something for him, then we’re going to criticize him for that, too. So they just can’t win. And you’re right, I don’t think that LeBron would have told Kyrie what he was going to do.
JASON WHITLOCK: He didn’t tell D. Wade.
KRISTINE LEAHY: And Kyrie knew that, so why shouldn’t it be every man for himself? Why shouldn’t Kyrie go get his?
JIM JACKSON: Kyrie did it right the right way. You said it. He went to management and said, here’s the issue. OK and it came out the other way around.
JASON WHITLOCK: The floor is yours He didn’t tell D. Wade.
COLIN COWHERD: It’s a really good point.
JIM JACKSON: That’s all I get for that. Is that it?
COLIN COWHERD: Fist bump.
JIM JACKSON: OK.
COLIN COWHERD: OK, just look at Kyrie’s record without LeBron.
KRISTINE LEAHY: Early, early.
COLIN COWHERD: You can win these arguments, but Kyrie without LeBron was an injury riddled, selfish, no defensive player that could not win games. He won 21, 24, 33, no playoff appearances.
KRISTINE LEAHY: He had to be selfish. Did you look at the roster?
JASON WHITLOCK: I love LeBron. He’s a great player. I love him. Great.
COLIN COWHERD: You always tell me this is.
JASON WHITLOCK: But in Cleveland, what did LeBron win without Kyrie Irving? Who hit the game winning shot? Who was the most unstoppable finisher?
COLIN COWHERD: So now you’re–
JASON WHITLOCK: And closer.
COLIN COWHERD: –gonna argue Kyrie is better than LeBron.
JASON WHITLOCK: Absolutely not. But I must say, there was a bit more equality on the court than what you’re giving credit to. I don’t think they were equals. But Kyrie carried his load, and that’s one of the reasons why Kyrie is like, I did my part here.
COLIN COWHERD: Kristine and I were talking about this the other day. The one thing we’re all back. You know, you unpack this and it happens, and I react, and over time. But there is one thing though. Magic and Bird saved the league. That was kind of the narrative. The league was literally, they were putting the finals on at night on delay.
And then MJ made it global. Lebron’s become sort of the player mobility. He empowered athletes, like you’re more powerful than owners in this league. The problem with that is Kyrie’s like, he’s Mr. Mobility. Why would he be offended if I want to be mobile?
So LeBron has set the precedent in the league is always leave for a better opportunity. And Kyrie, a smart guy, watched it and went, yeah it’s my turn to leave for a better opportunity.
JIM JACKSON: Here’s the thing about Kyrie, two things. One, if you listen to what he said, he said he wants to get back to playing point guard. Which means he didn’t want to isolate him on the wing. I also believe, like LeBron, the biggest thing that helped LeBron when he went to Miami, learn how to win and win the right way.
Kyrie has learned how to win. I believe his role is going to be a little bit different with Brad Stevens now that he has playmakers on the wing, where Isaiah didn’t. That Kyrie is going to be a different type of player under Brad Stevens’ system. With that and also understanding that he’s won before. So early in his career, yeah, that’s one thing. But now, where he’s at in his career. Totally different.
COLIN COWHERD: That’s a good point.
JASON WHITLOCK: Here’s what you’re missing, Colin. And we’ll hopefully end on this note, maybe not. LeBron is great at sharing the ball. He’s not great at sharing power, and Kyrie wanted a little bit of the share to the power. He felt he had earned that.
COLIN COWHERD: You guys all had a really nice segment. We still have a C block, a D block, and an E block.