LeBron James: Kyrie Irving Will Be 'Fine' in Return to Cleveland with Celtics

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistOctober 17, 2017

FILE - In this March 19, 2017, file photo, Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James, left, greets Kyrie Irving during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles. There is bad blood once again in the NBA. No, it’s not just the Pistons-Bulls or Celtics-Lakers type of feuds. Sure, there’s Warriors-Cavs, Thunder-Warriors and Cavs-Celtics. But these days, it’s more individually driven _ thanks in large part to social media.  There’s Russ-KD, LeBron-Kyrie, and even a Whiteside-Embiid can get in on the action. The back-and-forth makes for matchups worth circling on the calendar _ beginning Tuesday night with Boston-Cleveland.  (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James downplayed Kyrie Irving's return to Cleveland and the reaction he will receive during Tuesday's 2017-18 season-opening game against the Boston Celtics in an interview with The Jump's Rachel Nichols that aired Monday.          

LeBron—who was booed loudly upon returning to Cleveland on Dec. 2, 2010, as a visiting player after signing with the Miami Heat that summer—doesn't believe Irving's reception at Quicken Loans Arena will compare, according to ESPN.com's Dave McMenamin: "They will be fine. People were throwing batteries at us."

James added that several players have found or will find themselves in situations similar to Irving's: "Everybody's good. Everybody's good. KD [Kevin Durant] last year in Oklahoma City, Paul George going to go back to Indiana, you know, [Dwyane Wade's] going to go to Chicago, Kyrie's coming back to Cleveland. No [it will not compare]."

Kyrie is already in line to enjoy a warmer welcome than James did in 2010, as a source told ESPN the Cavs have a tribute video planned for the four-time All-Star.

Irving spent six seasons with the Cavaliers after they selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft out of Duke.

Cleveland granted his trade request during the offseason, per ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst, sending him to Boston in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Brooklyn Nets' unprotected 2018 first-round draft pick.

Irving was a key figure in last season's Eastern Conference Finals victory over Boston in five games, and he also had the game-winning three-pointer in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, helping give Cleveland its first-ever NBA title.

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