Press Box Perspective: A Snake In the Grass

By Seth Rivello

Kyrie Irving will go down in Cleveland Cavaliers history as one of the most beloved players ever by some and the most hated by others. Irving is most remembered for the shot he hit a little over a year ago.

It was June 19, 2016, game seven of the NBA Finals. The Cavaliers battled back from a 3-1 series deficit to contend with the Golden State Warriors on their home court, Oracle Arena.

With less than a minute left in the game and scored tied at 89, Irving was one-on-one with the NBA’s most valuable player of 2016, Stephen Curry. Irving dribbled until the shot clock was down to its last couple seconds, then he pulled up. It seemed like the shot was in the air forever then finally, it fell through. He has one of the purest jump shots the NBA has ever seen. That shot put Cleveland up by three and was the dagger to Golden State’s heart.

Everything went the Cavaliers’ way that year. It seemed like this team would be locked in for years with many more championships to come. In 2017, it was the third straight year the Cavaliers would face the Warriors in the NBA finals. For Cleveland fans it was nothing to memorable as the team was defeated 4-1. This was the final nail in the coffin for one player in particular.

No one really knows what drove Irving to leave Cleveland, or in a sense, to hate LeBron James. All of a sudden the dancing in the practice gym stopped the group workout videos stopped, and all fun was over. Kyrie did not want to be in Cleveland anymore, he didn’t want to play with arguably the greatest basketball player ever LeBron James anymore and he sure as hell didn’t want to talk to him.

As the word got out more details started to spill. The Cavs couldn’t get in contact with him, he wouldn’t answer the phone. Irving posted a Snapchat video of him singing “I’m Coming Home” while on a flight back from China. This doesn’t seem like a big deal until you think back to when LeBron was welcomed back to Cleveland, ESPN played that song for a month straight.

Finally the Cavaliers had enough and shipped Irving to the Boston Celtics. In return the Cavaliers received point guard Isaiah Thomas, forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic, Brooklyn’s 2018 unprotected first-round pick, and Boston’s 2020 second round pick.

Irving has started to talk more and give some reasons why he wanted out. If he had talked earlier and just come out, he might not be considered a snake or had his jerseys burned in the street.

Irving appeared on ESPN’s “First Take” on Monday. He spoke a little on LeBron James and a lot on how he felt about his situation in Cleveland as a whole.

“I just wanted to be in an environment where I felt I could be taught every single day and have that demand from my coaching staff and have that demand from a franchise that would propel me to exceed my potential and see how far I can go,” Irving said.

Irving goes on to talk about being the face of the franchise and not taking a back seat.

“The last person that everybody kind of forgot about was me,” Irving said. “I didn’t say a damn word.”

Oct. 17 the Celtics come to Quicken Loans Arena to face the Cavaliers in the first game of the new season. This could be one of the most talked about games since LeBron came back to Cleveland in a Miami Heat uniform.