Celtics’ Kyrie Irving calls requesting trade from Cavs ‘the best thing I’ve done’
A year removed from the trade request that shook the NBA world, Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving now reflects on his decision to seek his way out of the Cleveland Cavaliers as the best decision he has made in his young NBA career.
Despite having lost the 2017 NBA Finals in five games to the newly reloaded Golden State Warriors, Irving was in an enviable position as a sidekick to LeBron James with a near-automatic chance to reach the title series each and every year. But Irving wanted more than that; he wanted to have his own team and become the leader he set out to be when he embarked on his NBA journey.
“I think it was the best thing I’ve done, honestly,” Irving told Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck.
Irving was drafted into the NBA during the post-James era in Cleveland and was expected to take over the mantle of face of the franchise for years to come, though through a slow and steady process.
James’ unexpected return would put Irving a seat back, making him the hopeful Robin to LeBron’s Batman, having already shown glimpses of being a high-octane scorer ready to take the next step.
The transition was tough, and one that saw the superstar point guard have to deal with the pressure of championship expectations suddenly suffocating him and the locker room upon James’ arrival.
Fast-forward to his unexpected exit, one that opened the path for similar-caliber likes of Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler to do the same, and Irving now knows the difference of these stakes and what it takes to rise above them.
“Everybody can’t expect you to lead a championship team and then come back to the media and care about what everybody else says,” said Irving. “Like, it’s just impossible. You’re gonna drive yourself nuts. And I did that.”
“So I try to tell these young guys in here that you’re looking at a guy that has been through the wringer of being one of the top-tier guys in this league. I’ve been underranked, I’ve been overranked, I’ve been overrated, I’ve been underrated, I’ve been everything that you can think of, every word of comparison. So at the end of the day, man, just find a balance in it. Find what makes you happy, and then honestly, just live your life doing that.”
Irving has found his zen and center of balance upon arriving in Boston. He’s now leading his own team at his own pace, and he’s the actor, director and spectator of his own story, playing right before his eyes.