“You want to be on a good team. You want to play with other great players. This notion where you want to be the man, I just think is so stupid. If I got a chance to play with another great player, I want to do that. The objective is to win.”
“When he was on a bad team and he was the man, I guarantee you that wasn’t a lot of fun for him. And now you want to leave the best player in the world. And listen, I hear all of this stuff about how LeBron casts a big shadow. He should cast a big shadow. I’m pretty sure everybody that played with Michael Jordan or Larry Bird or Shaq … it’s a big thing. If you get a chance to play with great players, that’s half the battle.”
Charles Barkley had some harsh words towards Kyrie Irving’s trade request. The trade request by Kyrie Irving came as a shock to most of the NBA world. When I first heard the news of his request, I had a reaction and opinion similar to that of Charles Barkley. “Why would you want to leave LeBron James?” Those were the first words out of my mouth. I didn’t understand why Kyrie Irving would want to play somewhere else. I didn’t understand why he would want to give up a chance to go to the NBA Finals every year. It just didn’t make any sense.
Now that I’ve had some more time to think about this trade request, I’ve come to understand why Kyrie Irving wants to be traded, at least as much as I can understand without having inside information from Kyrie Irving or his camp.
Why Would Kyrie Want A Trade?
All the reports have said that Kyrie wants a trade because he wants to be the focal point of an offense. Charles Barkley was right when he said that it probably wasn’t a lot of fun for Kyrie when he was the focal point on a losing team. It’s not fun for anybody to lose. As soon as LeBron James got back to Cleveland, the Cavaliers started winning, but Kyrie took a back seat. Do you think it was fun for Kyrie Irving to go from the focal point to the afterthought? Maybe afterthought isn’t the right word, but you know what I mean. All the attention was on LeBron.
Even in some of the biggest moments of Kyrie Irving’s career, we’ve still given more recognition to LeBron James. Let’s go back to game seven of the 2016 NBA Finals. The game is nearing the end with the scored all tied up. Kyrie Irving pulls up and drains a three point shot over Steph Curry to give the Cavaliers a three point lead. In that brief moment, Kyrie Irving was the hero. That moment was quickly over for Kyrie.
The Cavaliers went on to win that game and the NBA title, and Kyrie Irving’s shot was a HUGE reason why, but LeBron James overshadowed Kyrie once again. This was the first ever Championship won by the Cleveland Cavaliers. What made this extra special, is that LeBron James fulfilled his promise to bring a championship to the city of Cleveland. The moment that promise was fulfilled, all the attention was on LeBron James. LeBron James was also named MVP of those NBA Finals, which took our attention even further away from Kyrie Irving’s greatness. Not to take anything away from LeBron. He absolutely deserved to win MVP of those NBA Finals. He averaged 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, 8.9 assists, 2.6 steals, and 2.3 blocks. That’s incredible! My point is that LeBron’s greatness and fulfilled promise left us focused on him, while another great player got little credit.
Sure, Kyrie Irving might not have been having fun when he was the focal point of a losing team, but do you think he was having fun on a winning team where LeBron James got most of the credit? Probably not. It was probably fun for a moment. How could you not have fun after being crowned an NBA champion? When that was all over, the fun went away.
It’s Not What We Want, It’s What Kyrie Wants
I don’t like that Charles Barkley and several others have said Kyrie Irving is stupid for requesting this trade. Imagine if you wanted something, but then everyone was telling you you’re stupid for wanting it. How would that make you feel?
Everyone talks about NBA Championships like it’s what everyone has to want. They don’t really give you a choice. I’m sure everyone in the NBA wants to win a championship, but I think sometimes championships are overblown. Maybe one championship is enough for Kyrie Irving. For someone like LeBron James, maybe three championships isn’t enough. He’s come out and said that he’s chasing Michael Jordan’s legacy. We probably won’t ever give LeBron the title of “the greatest ever” unless he wins more championships than he currently has. Kyrie Irving got one championship, and now he wants to move on to another challenge in his career. Kyrie wants something different from LeBron, and that’s okay.
Maybe Kyrie wants to prove to all of us that he can be the leader of a winning team. We haven’t seen that from him yet, but we’ve only seen him be the focal point for three seasons. Those three seasons were his first three. In those three seasons, Kyrie Irving was 19, 20, and 21. He was just a kid. He’s still only 25 years old. He’s grown a lot since his first three seasons, and he’s still got plenty of time to grow. If being the focal point of a team is what Kyrie Irving wants, then he should be able to do that.
You may not be a fan of what Kyrie Irving wants, but it doesn’t matter. Kyrie Irving wants something other than what we want. Is that such a bad thing? People have different opinions and different wants. Just because Kyrie Irving wants something other than what most people want from him, it doesn’t make him stupid.