- Kyrie Irving and LeBron James facing off as opponents following Irving’s trade from Cleveland.
- Adam Glanzman/Getty Images
- After years of playing on a lousy team, Kyrie Irving wanted a chance to see how good he could be as the leader of a good group, according to the former Cleveland Cavaliers general manager.
- But LeBron’s return to Cleveland denied Irving that opportunity.
- Furthermore, Irving and LeBron’s skills overlapped too much to make the pair a natural fit.
Former Cleveland Cavaliers general manager David Griffin recently made an appearance on Bill Simmons’ podcast and gave some more insight into why Kyrie Irving wanted to leave LeBron James and a guaranteed shot at contending for NBA titles every year.
“I think the fit of LeBron and Kyrie was difficult because Kyrie was so good offensively, had been carrying the load offensively for a bad team, hadn’t been raised to understand how to lead and help you win necessarily, hadn’t been given that opportunity yet, and just when we’re gonna be good LeBron shows up, and it’s his team,” Griffin said.
“So he never got the chance to take the natural progression in his career where he had to try to carry the load and see how good he could be. And he really wanted that. He’d been doing it on a bad team, he wanted a chance to do it on a good team. And it wasn’t about being ‘The Man,’ it’s ‘How good can I be?’ ‘What am I capable of?’”
Griffin also pointed out that because LeBron and Kyrie both had skills suited towards being the number one option on an offense, that Kyrie operating as LeBron’s sidekick would not have been as natural of a fit as it was for the defensively-oriented Scottie Pippen to be Michael Jordan’s sidekick.
And, interestingly, when talking about another famous NBA teammate divorce, Griffin said that he felt Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant had a much more toxic personal relationship with each other than LeBron and Kyrie did.