LeBron James and Kyrie Irving were work friends. That’s it. That’s all they were, and you can stop asking them questions about it, OK?
That’s what I took away from their respective media sessions Monday, the first time in three years they weren’t wearing the same uniform. There’s no bad blood between the two megastars. But James isn’t going to spend any extra time thinking about Irving now that they’re on different teams, and he’s damn sure not going to give him any advice.
Advice for Kyrie? ...Not happening. pic.twitter.com/F3cQojzLj0— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) September 25, 2017
Basketball brought James and Irving together when they otherwise probably would’ve never crossed paths. It seems clear to me that James doesn’t understand why Irving wanted to leave. He doesn’t judge him for it; he’s not mad. I don’t even think James needs to know. In his press conference, James revealed that he has reached out to Irving exactly one time since hearing about the trade request, and it was right after he found out.
James was trying to understand why Irving wanted to leave. Like many of us, I don’t think he figured it out. In the ways we traditionally view basketball, Irving had no reason to leave, and that was initially puzzling. But after that, and after Irving was traded ... who cares?
Irving didn’t trash the team on the way out, or do anything except request something that — in James’ eyes — was weird. If they worked at an office together, they could still do their job, and Irving would just be a co-worker that James didn’t really understand. Maybe they’d go out for drinks with other co-workers, but nobody would be forcing them to be friends. Not being friends with someone you interact with is the most normal thing you can do, right? We all meet thousands of people, and how many of them do you call friends?
There’s an important thing to note from Irving’s perspective, too: He doesn’t care. I know this because he literally says, “I don’t even care.”
Irving had his own reasons to leave Cleveland. Even if they only make sense to him, they’re still his reasons — and they’re still the reasons he has to hold himself accountable to.
Because these are two of the NBA’s biggest stars, we are obsessing over the why. We want to know every single detail of these two men’s relationship because the whole thing is rather strange to us. Without those circumstances, Irving and James would just slowly faded away from each other.
And really, that would have been more normal than anything else.