Kyrie Irving was not the most social member of the Cleveland Cavaliers during the NBA playoffs.
While making an appearance on The BBall Breakdown Podcast, ESPN.com’s Dave McMenamin relayed an anecdote told to him by James Jones, who says that Irving went days without speaking to his teammates in practice during the postseason. Here’s the transcription, courtesy of NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman:
I think I reported this on SportsCenter this week. He saw Kyrie Irving in the playoffs this year – in between the first round, when they beat Indiana, and the second round, when they played Toronto – go consecutive days without speaking to a teammate at practice.
On that stage. It’s one thing to say people go through their ups and downs in the regular season. But when you get to the playoffs, “when the main thing is the main thing, and we’re brothers, and we’re pulling together to get this thing done” – even at that level, there were still things that made him sullen or reclusive from his teammates.
It seems that the writing really was on the wall. Those around the Cavaliers had to sense Irving’s trade request, or at least his relative displeasure, from a mile away.
Feuding with LeBron James is one thing. Their is a generational gap there. They don’t need to hang out and be friendly at every turn. But to offer the silent treatment to everyone on the team—a reigning-champion, Finals-bound team no less—is extreme. That it lasted days is truly incredible. That this all somehow didn’t get out in real-time is also miraculous.
Anyway, throw this tidbit onto the mounting, and smoldering, pile of evidence that suggests Irving’s exit, relative to the LeBron James era in Cleveland, has been in the cards for a long time.