Kyrie Irving Says He Didn't Care If LeBron James Took Trade Request Personally

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistSeptember 18, 2017

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 1: Kyrie Irving talks with the media as he gets introduced as Boston Celtics on September 1, 2017 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE  (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)
Brian Babineau/Getty Images

Kyrie Irving revealed on ESPN's First Take Monday morning that he didn't speak with LeBron James before requesting a trade away from the Cleveland Cavaliers, adding, "Why would I have to?"

He also responded, when asked, that he didn't care if James took it personally that he made the trade request before speaking to him.

Irving continued: 

"I don't think you owe anything to another person in terms of figuring out what you want to do with your life. It's not anything personal, I'm not here to tirade anybody or to go at any particular person or the organization because I have nothing but love for Cleveland. I have nothing but love for the time I spent there. It's nothing about that. There comes a time where you mature as an individual, it's time to make that decision. and there is no looking back from that standpoint. There is no time to figure out how to save somebody's feelings when ultimately you have to be selfish in figuring out what you want to do."

When pressed on why he would leave a situation that, at least in the short term, was probably his best opportunity to win another title, Irving instead focused on the big picture as he saw it.

"It wasn't about me not wanting to win, it wasn't anything about that," he noted. "I want to be extremely, extremely happy in perfecting my craft and that was the only intent I had in all of this." 

He again cited the happiness factor at a different point in the interview, per Brian Windhorst of ESPN: 

Brian Windhorst @WindhorstESPN

Kyrie Irving on First Take when asked about leaving money on the table in leaving Cleveland: "You can't put a price on happiness."

Frankly, Irving came across as a man who simply wanted a change in scenery. He made it pretty clear during the interview that his decision to leave wasn't about not wanting to play with James, or not desiring to play second fiddle to James. He regularly cited the desire to perfect his craft, "and be happy doing so." 

And when pressed as to whether or not he believes he can win a title without James, he said simply, "Oh absolutely." 

First Take @FirstTake

Can you win a championship without LeBron? @KyrieIrving: https://t.co/kQmnwy09eU

Whatever Kyrie's definitive motivations for leaving Cleveland, he didn't outright reveal them during Monday's interview. But his often vague responses left open the possibilities that have already been floated out there after his trade request was leaked: That he didn't want to wait around to see what James would do in free agency after the 2017-18 season; that he didn't have faith in the team's management or coaching staff; or that he simply grew tired of the drama and the circus that follows a player of James' stature wherever he goes, and that Irving preferred to focus on basketball. 

All are feasible, but none were directly said by Irving on Monday. He left things open for interpretation, though he made one thing abundantly clear: He was no longer happy in Cleveland.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.