Members of the Cleveland Cavaliers have responded to comments made earlier this week by Kyrie Irving about the city in the wake of his trade to the Boston Celtics.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Irving said moving to Boston made him think he was "really playing in a real, live sports city."
"Coming from Cleveland, the Midwest, where the culture is different," he said. "And then you move to the East Coast — into Boston — and it's so real [and] alive. An ongoing, thriving city. Consistently. No matter what hour throughout the night."
Per ESPN's Dave McMenamin, Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue defended Cleveland without speculating that Irving was trying to antagonize his former team.
"I don't know," Lue said. "He can do what he wants to do. But we know in Cleveland, we have a great sports town in Cleveland. A great city, fans behind the teams 100 percent, so I'm happy to be here."
Dwyane Wade, who signed with the Cavaliers last month, took a similar approach as Lue with his response.
"I've always tried not to be too, me personally, oversensitive to what I read or what somebody says because I wasn't there when they said it," Wade told McMenamin. "Because you just don't know. Boston is a big sports town. It has the history there. And I think that's one thing, if you want to read the quote, they have an amazing amount of sports history and all the championships from football to baseball to all four sports."
Irving spent the first six years of his career with the Cavaliers after being selected No. 1 overall in the 2011 NBA draft. He made four All-Star teams with Cleveland and helped lead the franchise to an NBA championship in 2016 against the Golden State Warriors.
After the Cavs lost to the Warriors in the 2017 NBA Finals, Irving requested a trade from the team. ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported Irving didn't want to play alongside LeBron James and wanted to be more of a "focal point."
The Cavaliers and Celtics finalized a trade in August sending Irving to Boston for a package that included Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and two draft picks.
The Cavs will open the 2017-18 regular season hosting the Celtics in Cleveland on Oct. 17.