Kyrie Irving is one of the most talented basketball players in the world. Has been for a long time. But he's never been able to find the same level of success away from LeBron James that he enjoyed when the two were paired together in Cleveland, where they went to three NBA Finals and won a championship in 2016.
That Cavs team was loaded, led by James, Irving and Kevin Love. When Irving requested a trade in the summer of 2017, it didn't, on the surface, make a whole lot of sense from a team standpoint. Why would he want to leave a perennial championship contender to go out on his own?
It was painted as Irving not wanting to play in the shadow of LeBron anymore, but on the most recent episode of the "I am Athlete" podcast, Irving said it was more about his own issues at the time, personally more than basketball, and now knowing exactly how to deal with what he was feeling.
"If I was in the same maturity line and understanding of who I am [now], and I look back, we definitely, definitely would've won more championships," Irving expressed. "Because there would've been a better man-to-man understanding [with LeBron] about what I'm going through. I didn't know how to share my emotions. I didn't know how to do that. So instead of sharing, I isolated myself."
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Irving added that he regrets not reaching out to LeBron during the period when he asked for the trade.
"We didn't talk during that time," Irving said. "When I look back on what I was going through at that time, I wish I did [talk to LeBron], because it would've been a good understanding of what the future will hold for both of us and we know how much power we both had together. Me and him in the league together running Cleveland, and then being able to put a better team together every single year would've definitely been worth it."
It sounds as if Irving is saying he regrets leaving LeBron and Cleveland altogether. If he does feel that way, it's only natural. He's right, they were a perfect basketball duo that enjoyed enormous success together and certainly could've competed for more titles if they'd stayed together longer. But that doesn't mean Irving isn't happy where he is now.
To the contrary, he sounds pretty at peace, which is allowing him to reflect with better clarity. Who among us doesn't look back at the way we handled certain situations as less mature versions of ourselves and recognize our errors? Who wouldn't like to get a do-over or two? To me, it's cool to hear Irving admit to the same regrets we all have in one capacity or another.