While at a community event, Kyrie Irving was asked by one young Cleveland Cavaliers fan if he intended to abandon the team like LeBron James did in 2010 (h/t ProBasketballTalk).
“Are you going to leave us like LeBron left us?” the kid asked innocently.
(Note that this video is from two years ago, but it will be extremely pertinent come 2015.)
Well damn, what are you supposed to say to that? It’s not like the kid was indifferent. Notice the use of “us.” That really puts the pressure on. But if Irving didn’t catch that, there was always the piercing, soul-discovering gaze the child held after posing his question.
I mean, just look:
Props to Irving, who handled the situation almost perfectly.
“It’s a great question,” he replied amidst fits of laughter while holding a smile of his own. “Um, no. I won’t leave.”
Cue the applause. Irving gave the crowd, unbridled, truth-seeking child included, the answer they all wanted to hear. As he should have, even if he was lying through his teeth. What’s he supposed to say? “Listen little buddy, it’s like this: I’m leaving. And I’m not coming back. LeBron and I will actually form our own superteam in Miami when I hit restricted free agency in 2015. You guys here, in Cleveland, are soooooo screwed.”
“Also, Santa Clause told me you made the naughty list and won’t be receiving any presents on Christmas ever again,” Irving would have added if he was, in fact, a heartless, scheming super villain.
So of course he said what he said. He had no choice. Though, for what it’s worth, I’m convinced he was being sincere, if only because players tend to re-up with the team that draft them at least once. LeBron himself did with the Cavaliers. The prospect of that first massive “look at my suit made of money and my car upholstered in money and my toilet paper that is actually money” pay day is usually too good to pass up.
Irving also has next summer to look forward to, when LeBron himself is expected to hit free agency and the Cavs will have the resources necessary to chase him. Irving figures to be a big part of whatever sales pitch the Cavs run with. Dan Gilbert (hopefully) won’t be.
That’s where Irving could have handled this a tad better. His answer was great. The fact that he was able to avoid crushing this kid’s hopes and dreams, and not ruin his future holidays, was awesome. But it could have been better had he addressed the LeBron situation.
If he doesn’t believe LeBron would ever return to Cleveland, something like “No, I won’t. That LeBron is a scoundrel and I would never taint the sanctity of this here great city,” would’ve worked.
Or, if he truly thinks the Cavs have a shot at landing The King’s services, coming to his defense may have been the route to go. “No, I won’t leave. Yet LeBron had his reasons. He wanted to come back, you see. His dream has always been actualizing the prodigal son theme while emerging from the tunnel to the chorus of ‘Coming Home.’ I can’t tell you how jealous he was of Carmelo Anthony is 2011.”
Anything along those lines, that could have doubled as subtle, yet shameless, sales pitch would’ve sufficed. Cleveland will just have to settle for the answer Irving gave, though, all the while hoping this is one of those verbal contracts that proves forever binding.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.