Kevin Love Wishes LeBron James, Kyrie Irving Had Made 1 More Run with Cavaliers

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMay 6, 2020

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James (23) and Kyrie Irving (2) celebrate during an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat Thursday, April 2, 2015, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Tony Dejak/Associated Press

Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love said Wednesday he would have "really loved" to see LeBron James and Kyrie Irving make one more championship run with the organization.

They led the Cavs to a championship in 2016, but Cleveland lost a rematch with the Golden State Warriors in the 2017 NBA Finals. Irving then requested a trade and was sent to the Boston Celtics. James left the following year to join the Los Angeles Lakers.

"To even have just one more run at it, to see what we were capable of. Just one more run. I would've really loved to see that," Love told Jason Lloyd of The Athletic. "I think we would've been primed for another really big run. Even if it was, for both of them, their last year in Cleveland. It would've been nice to see what we were capable of."

Love explained he's an avid viewer of The Last Dance, an ESPN documentary about the 1990s Chicago Bulls dynasty, and he's recognized some parallels between how things started to break down in Chicago and the shift toward a rebuild for the future in Cleveland, per Lloyd.

The 31-year-old UCLA product and Tristan Thompson are the last major pillars from the 2016 championship team still on the roster. It's otherwise a group being rebuilt around Collin Sexton and Darius Garland, top 10 picks over the past two years.

Love told The Athletic trying to find a tandem like James and Irving won't be easy, though:

"Take away any of the off-the-court stuff—it's easy to say that—but on the court, they were devastating together. Playing downhill like that, when they were on, outside of the Warriors, we didn't believe that anybody could play with us. With how we spread the floor, with how Bron was so powerful and dominant. Kyrie as well. He was a magician with the basketball and playing in the open court. Hitting 3s and shooters all around them. It's tough to bring in so many new players and not know what that's going to look like."

James and Irving didn't always see eye-to-eye during their three years together, and Kyrie's desire to become a team's go-to player helped spark his move to the Celtics. He's since left Boston to sign with the Brooklyn Nets to team up with Kevin Durant.

Irving told reporters in January 2019 he called LeBron to apologize for any past problems:

"Obviously, this was a big deal for me, because I had to call [LeBron] and tell him I apologized for being that young player that wanted everything at his fingertips, and I wanted everything at my threshold. I wanted to be the guy that led us to a championship. I wanted to be the leader. I wanted to be all that, and the responsibility of being the best in the world and leading your team is something that is not meant for many people.

"[LeBron] was one of those guys who came to Cleveland and tried to show us how to win a championship, and it was hard for him, and sometimes getting the most out of the group is not the easiest thing in the world."

The Cavaliers never got their version of a last dance. The Bulls were told Phil Jackson was leaving the organization after the 1997-98 season and Michael Jordan made the decision to follow him out the door, making the team's run to their sixth championship in 1998 even more memorable.

Cleveland's breakup took place over a couple years and didn't end on a high note, but Love still wonders what would have happened if James and Irving stayed together for one more serious run at a title.