Immaturity cost Cavaliers ‘more championships’

Kyrie Irving spoke about why he left Cleveland just a year after winning the title and how the setback he suffered in the aftermath shaped him into who he is today.

The Nets star, who will have to make a decision next month on whether to opt for the final year of his contract in Brooklyn, sat down for the latest episode, “I Am Athlete.” He lifted the lid on a variety of issues, including saying the Cavaliers would have stayed together longer and won more had he been more mature.

“If I had been in the same line of maturity and understood who I am and looking back, we definitely, definitely would have won more championships because there would have been a better understanding from man to man.” I’m going through. I didn’t know how to share my feelings,” Irving said. “I didn’t know how to do it. So instead of sharing, I isolated myself.

“I’ve just started to get more into the game – I’ve had one of my better seasons but I haven’t had as much exposure to everyone during the championship year. So 2017 was a different year for us. We competed against Golden State, we competed against a great team. If you’re not a great team and you don’t click all cylinders and together, you’ll be easily defeated. You are defeated before you can reach the arena.”

Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving
NBAE via Getty Images

A la this season’s Nets, who failed in the first round after a tumultuous season in which they could never get cohesion due to Irving’s refusal to get vaccinated, Kevin Durant’s injury, James Harden’s trade demand, etc.

While Irving faces a $36.5 million opt-in decision, he is at a different point in his life than when he asked from Cleveland when he was 24. In hindsight, he regrets not speaking to LeBron James beforehand.

“We didn’t speak to each other during that time,” Irving admitted. “Looking back at what I went through at the time, I wish I had because it would have been a good understanding of what the future held for both of us and we know how much power we both had together. Me and him in the league running Cleveland together and then being able to put together a better team every year would have definitely been worth it.”

This will sound familiar to Brooklyn fans, as Irving spoke of co-running the Nets with Durant. He admits to following James’ famous behind-the-scenes machinations with interest; that’s probably informed by how he goes about his business now in Brooklyn.

And that’s not the only way that time has affected Irving. He opened up about sitting down with Cavs Brass aged 24 and telling them he would prefer a deal and intended to speak to James about it, but the news was leaked before that conversation took place. To make matters worse, he was abroad in China at the time.

Kyrie Irving, front, and LeBron James with the Cavaliers.
Kyrie Irving, front, and LeBron James with the Cavaliers.
Getty Images

“I’m not even on American soil, so I can’t even defend myself … and I had no idea how to handle it when all the media was after me,” Irving said. “It took me six years to even speak openly about it because I’m happy with my decision. Before I asked myself, “Yo, did I do that right? I left one of the best players in the game. And I started listening to it.

“That’s where mental health comes in, because when you start believing what other people say about you, you become a shell of yourself. … You’re trying to be perfect for others who don’t really care if you’re on.” breathe another day or not. “You’re just another motherf-er, we can only troll or hate.” So I had to switch. … I began to delve deeply into Islam.

“I went through this period of time reclaiming my power. I’ve found my tribe, I’ve reclaimed my identity. I stopped listening to everyone else about what an athlete should be, the image we should be every day, why we should do the things we do. I had to find that purpose.” Immaturity cost Cavaliers ‘more championships’


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