After winning one championship over three consecutive NBA Finals appearances, Kyrie Irving surprisingly asked for a trade to break away from LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
While it took a month for the Cavs to honor Irving’s request, he was traded to the Boston Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and a 2018 first round draft pick from the Brooklyn Nets (Collin Sexton).
As it was initially viewed as a solid return for the Cavaliers considering the circumstances, Thomas and Crowder ultimately did not fit in and both were moved at the trade deadline last season.
Although James and the Cavaliers made another Finals appearance, he knew his and the team’s time was coming to an end, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic:
“Everyone knows that when Kyrie got traded it was the beginning of the end for everything. It’s not a secret,” James said in an interview with The Athletic.
Despite James being ‘adamant’ about not trading Irving to new general manager Koby Altman, the Cavaliers traded him minutes later:
“You realize at that point in time, take nothing from Koby, because Koby (was just named GM), but at that point in time, you realize that Koby’s not the only one running the team, as (former GM David Griffin) had done, and that’s why Griff was let go pretty much,” James said.
As the best player in the league today, James has a significant voice in a team’s decision-making process. However, it appears owner Dan Gilbert still made the decision and eventually lost James to the Los Angeles Lakers.
With James making his return to the Cleveland for the first time on Wednesday, he is expected to receive cheers from the fans. Along with delivering the team’s first championship in dramatic fashion, he recently opened the I Promise School in Akron for 240 students.