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Kyrie Irving Has His Reasons for Wanting Out of Cleveland

There’s no doubt that Kyrie wants out of Cleveland. It’s the reasons behind his decision that have been misconstrued.

By Tony HeimPublished 7 years ago 4 min read

Disclaimer: I am not an advocate of Kyrie Irving wanting to leave LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. I am only a Cincinnatian going to Ohio University, surrounded by large patches of Clevelanders — it is my duty to lay out the plethora of reasons why Kyrie Irving wants to get out of the Mistake on the Lake.

Dan Gilbert is to the Cavaliers as Donald Trump is to the United States; he’s ruining something wonderful.

In fact, as I type this sentence one of those aforementioned Clevelanders is telling me “nobody in Cleveland likes Dan Gilbert.” Think about that…the owner of the team who won the first professional championship in 56 years is universally-hated in Cleveland.

Gilbert bought the team in 2005, two years after LeBron James was drafted. Five years later James left because Gilbert’s front office hires failed to produce a roster capable of winning an NBA championship.

Then something unusual happened — the Cavs won three Draft lotteries in four years. Under Chris Grant Cleveland took a no-brainer in Kyrie Irving in 2011 and followed it up with arguably the worst number one pick in league history in Anthony Bennett in 2013. Another lottery win in 2014 meant Andrew Wiggins was in the fold as trade bait; LeBron had more than enough reason to come home.

We’ll give Gilbert credit where he’s due: he hired David Griffin (the guy who worked with LeBron to win a championship) as Grant’s replacement right before LBJ returned home. Now Griffin is gone…the irony is glorious. His resignation is yet another reminder that Gilbert’s ego is too big to keep the best front office execs around, let alone the best players.

Dan Gilbert is the fundamental problem with the Cleveland Cavaliers. But he isn’t the main reason why Kyrie Irving wants to leave. That title shockingly goes to the King of Basketball, LeBron James. Or so it seems.

The recent reports/ongoing media analysis have created talk of physical violence between the two stars. According to James’ Twitter, however, maybe everything that has been reported simply isn’t true.


There’s no doubt that Kyrie wants out of Cleveland. It’s the reasons behind his decision that have been irrationally propagated.

Irving is confident in his talents; he believes he is on a similar level as the LeBrons, Durants and Westbrooks of the world. You can’t fault a player who’s been called the best isolation scorer in the world to think that.

Kyrie’s not at that super-duper star level, yet. Without vastly increasing his passing ability he’ll never get to that level either. Kyrie is 25 though — he’s at the point of his career where legacy begins to matter in an elite player’s head. And Irving sees his career unfolding as a special, Kobe-like scorer.

He can’t be Kobe playing behind LeBron. Kobe couldn’t even be Kobe until Shaquille O’Neal left. Remember the public outrage at Kobe after he finally forced Shaq out? Only slightly. That’s because we think about the Finals wins, the MVP’s, the scoring titles. Only then do we continue to think what could have been.

Second Disclaimer: I do not believe Kyrie is a Kobe-like talent. Although he will ultimately be a Hall of Famer and he may lead the league in scoring a year or two, Kyrie’s not Kobe. But I digress.

The point is, greatness is not worth shrouding. And in Kyrie’s mind, he is great. If he wants his own team that’s his own prerogative. It sure is risky wanting to leave one of the two best players of all time, but you have to respect the confidence in his own game.

So what exactly does Dan Gilbert have to do in all of this? A lot.

LeBron James is rumored to consider leaving his hometown next offseason; he has every reason to do so. The team that just got wiped by the Warriors in the Finals doubled down on old veterans who can’t keep up with Golden State’s offense. Kyle Korver (36), Jose Calderon (35) and Derrick Rose (the knees of a 55-year old) were the big free agent signings for the Cavs. They, a team coming off an NBA Finals loss, made these moves without a concrete GM in the fold.

That’s how atrocious Dan Gilbert is as the owner of an NBA team.

He went through the Draft and the beginnings of free agency with assistant GM Kobi Altman acting as the head until a new candidate appeared. Finally he hired Altman as the new GM after a few weeks searching for someone else. LeBron James is simply too smart to keep putting up with an unprepared owner like that.

Realistically Irving could wait a year for LeBron to leave, then the Cavaliers could be his team once again. But that would entail dealing with Gilbert on a consistent basis for (maybe) the rest of his career. Kyrie, the player willing to risk leaving LeBron to build his own legacy, is also too smart for that.

Kyrie Irving’s decision to want out of Cleveland is a remarkable case study. There are countless layers to unpeel, from the importance of team success to the uber-present athlete ego. Ultimately we can point to two people who influenced his shocking career change.

LeBron James is the person pushing Kyrie Irving out of Cleveland. Dan Gilbert is the one making the decision easy.


About the Creator

Tony Heim

Sam Presti Stan | Just trying to learn how to use 14% of my brain

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