LeBron James on Kyrie Irving: 'I Never Felt Like I Didn't Want to Play with Him'

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistNovember 22, 2018

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James, right, and Kyrie Irving celebrate after Cleveland defeated the Indiana Pacers 106-102 to win Game 4 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Sunday, April 23, 2017, in Indianapolis. Cleveland won the series 4-0. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Darron Cummings/Associated Press

LeBron James recently told The Athletic's Joe Vardon the Kyrie Irving trade was "the beginning of the end for everything" in Cleveland, but the Los Angeles Lakers superstar made it clear he didn't want the dynamic duo to break up the way it did.

"That's not my problem. If that's the case, that's definitely not my problem," James said Wednesday when told Irving's trade request came because the point guard did not want to play with him anymore, according to The Athletic's Jason Lloyd. "I never felt like I didn't want to play with him. The only thing I tried to do is give him whatever I could and more."

Together, James and Irving helped the Cleveland Cavaliers reach three consecutive NBA Finals and deliver the franchise's first championship. They played instrumental roles in helping the Cavs in 2016 become the first team to overcome a 3-1 Finals hole, as James came up with a clutch block and Irving delivered the dagger.

Nobody will ever forget what the two accomplished together—but nobody will ever forget the way their run ended, either.

Irving asked for a trade during summer 2017 and was dealt to the Boston Celtics in August. As Vardon noted, James was "adamant" the Cavs not trade Irving, especially not to Boston.

"I think by the time it got to me he wanted to be traded, I think he was already gone," James told Lloyd. "He was already gone, and it was up to the organization to do their job and try to keep him as well. The guy still had two years left on his contract. They didn't have to give him up. It could've been repaired then. Bring him in, let's see what happens. I don't think his stock drops if he still comes to Cleveland, see what happens and at the trade deadline you could still do it then."

After the trade, Irving let it be known during his introductory press conference he had not spoken to James about the move:

He later discussed the matter on First Take:

James said prior to last season he had wondered if there were anything he could have done differently:


.@KingJames on Kyrie Irving asking to be traded from the @cavs. #NBAMediaDay https://t.co/rlN6AXrgMw

James and the Cavs knocked out the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals last season while Irving was sidelined with a knee injury. Cleveland, however, was swept in the NBA Finals by the Golden State Warriors.

Then James also chose to leave town, signing with the Lakers in July.

James and Irving spent three incredible years together and gave basketball fans some unbelievable memories. Now, though, they are on opposite sides of the league's most historic rivalry, which is fitting given the way their time together ended.