Kyrie Irving says some outlandish things. We can all agree on this. Recently, rather than appearing via Zoom for his season-opening press conference like every other player and coach, the Brooklyn Nets star guard submitted an "everyone look at me" written statement that detailed his intention not to speak to the media for what sounded like the whole season, saying, among other things, that he intends to let his work on and off the court speak for itself.
"Instead of speaking to the media," he wrote, "I am issuing this statement to ensure that my message is conveyed properly."
Not exactly a subtle dig there by Irving, who's really on a roll with these little jabs. During the NBA Finals, Irving went on Kevin Durant's The ETCs Podcast and took one of the most ridiculous shots at LeBron James you're likely to ever hear under the guise of praising Durant, who apparently inspires a level of trust in Irving that he's never had the good fortune of feeling next to his former pedestrian teammates.
"This is the first time in my career where I can look down and be like, 'That motherf----r can make that shot, too," Irving said.
Where do we even begin with the absurdity of this statement? The dude played with LeBron Freaking James, who apparently caught wind of Kyrie's comments and was, predictably and quite understandably, none too pleased.
"Once I got the whole transcript, I was like, 'damn,'" the Los Angeles Lakers superstar said of his initial reaction to Irving's comments while appearing on the Road Trippin' podcast with Richard Jefferson. "I wasn't like, 'oh you tripping, I've been hitting game-winning shots my whole life.' I was not like that. I was like, 'damn.' Because I played with Kyrie for three seasons, and the whole time I was [in Cleveland], I only wanted to see him be the MVP of our league. I only cared about his success, and it just didn't align.
And we was able to win a championship, that's the craziest thing," James continued. "We were still able to win a championship, and we could never align, but I only cared about his well being, both on and off the floor. And it kind of hurt me a little bit."
Have a listen to LeBron's take on the situation for yourself:
Again, it goes without saying how dumb Irving sounded saying something like this. LeBron James is arguably the greatest player to ever live, and the narrative that he shrinks in big moments has been sufficiently debunked with actual research, if what you've watched him do with your own eyes isn't enough.
Per an exhaustive study conducted by Mike Lynch of The Ringer, LeBron has seven career buzzer-beaters which is the third-most in NBA history, one shy of Kobe Bryant's eight and Michael Jordan's nine. James also has five playoff buzzer-beaters, which is the most in NBA history.
Moving beyond just buzzer-beaters, NBC Sports' Tom Haberstroh recently provided a fascinating look at the 10 current players who afford their team the highest win probability in the most critical moments. Go read the story. It's worth your time.
But if you want the CliffsNotes, here's what you're going to find: On this list of the 10 players who add the highest win probability when taking the shot in the most critical moments, Kyrie Irving ranks ninth. Kevin Durant ranks fourth. LeBron James -- who has hit eight of his last 15 "double-clutch" shots, which are defined as the "top one percent of the highest-leveraged shots; the shots that really swing games" -- ranks second.
Funny side note: Jayson Tatum, who, of course, was Irving's teammate in Boston, ranked eighth, one spot ahead of Kyrie.
Again, if you watch even a little bit of NBA basketball, you shouldn't need these statistics to understand that LeBron is a clutch player. But there they are. And by the way, this doesn't mean Irving isn't a clutch player in his own right. He hit one of the most clutch shots in history with the Game 7 dagger than sunk the Warriors in the 2016 Finals.
But for Irving to not just suggest, but flat-out say that he's never played with a guy who is equally capable of making big shots, honestly, it might be the most ridiculous thing that's ever come out of Irving's mouth, which is saying something for a guy who once questioned whether Earth is actually round.