Kyrie Irving’s Trade Demand

Cleveland? More like LEAVE-land.

In the case that you’ve been living under a rock, Cleveland Cavaliers PG Kyrie Irving demanded a trade last week. Word is that Kyrie is tired of being under LeBron James’ shadow, as he has the “Mamba Mentality” and wants to be the focal point of a team. It has also been reported that LeBron James is upset with Kyrie Irving for mentioning his name in this topic, so upset to the point that LeBron is “Tempted to beat his (Kyrie’s) ass” should the two come into contact with each other.

With all of the rumors swirling around LeBron James that he is bolting the Cavaliers for the Los Angeles Lakers next off-season, one can hardly blame Kyrie Irving for wanting to be two steps ahead of the game. When LeBron James left the Cavaliers in 2010, they suffered 4 straight losing seasons, 3 of which Irving was present for. Ever since LeBron James left the Miami Heat to return back home to Cleveland in 2014, the Heat have missed the postseason 2 out of the last 3 seasons, and now have to settle for signing Dion Waiters and Kelly Olynyk to big contracts. Kyrie sees a pattern here. That pattern? Whenever LeBron leaves, the team he leaves is decimated. Kyrie Irving does not want to be the next victim in LeBron’s pattern.

However, it has not been confirmed LeBron is leaving Cleveland  for LA LA land (*he hasn’t denied it either, but that’s another argument for a different day*). As of right now, LeBron James is a Cleveland Cavalier. As evidenced by the previous 7 years, if LeBron James plays on your team, you will play in the NBA Finals. Evidence from 3 of those 7 years also indicates you might actually win a title. One of those years indicates you might be the player to hit the game winning shot to defeat the greatest NBA regular season team ever. Oh wait, was the player who hit that shot LeBron James? No, it was Kyrie Irving.

Irving’s desire to be traded can only be described as a petulant, spoiled brat who complains about the line at Starbucks being too long. Kyrie Irving, a man who took 74 more 2-point shots and 99 more 3-point shots than LeBron James last year, is complaining about not getting as much attention as the greatest player on the planet. And by the way, this isn’t Kevin Durant in free agency in the summer of 2016 having all of the power in the world. When you demand a trade, you’re still under contract. You don’t get to choose your destination. The Cavaliers could trade Irving anywhere they’d like or tell him to go kick rocks. Irving has no leverage.

Irving is of the belief he can be a franchise cornerstone. That a team can be built around him to be “The Man” and compete for a championship. Going by Irving’s preferred destinations, one must ask what on earth he is thinking? He wants to be traded from the Cavaliers, a team essentially guaranteed to be the representative of the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals, to New York to become a nothing with the woeful Knicks? To be the fourth best player for the Minnesota Timberwolves? To compete for more shots with Dion Waiters for the Miami Heat? To be the second option like he is now with the Cavaliers for the San Antonio Spurs? Irving doesn’t realize how good he currently has it. Kyrie Irving is demanding a trade from a team in which he is an all-star and regarded as the team’s closer? Talk about first world problems.

What makes Irving believe he can utilize his “Mamba Mentality” like his idol, Kobe Bryant, and be “The Man” elsewhere when he could be described as a supremely talented, but oft-injured ball hog? Prior to the arrival of Cleveland’s lord and savior, LeBron James, Irving was already “The Man”. He was the number one overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. As “The Man”, the Cavaliers won 21 games in the lockout shortened 2011-12 NBA season, 24 games in 2012-13, and 33 games in 2013-14. While Irving was “The Man”, he was also chronically injured, as he missed 49 games in his first 3 seasons. Even when LeBron came back, Irving has still been injury-prone, missing 46 games over the last three seasons, and that doesn’t even include the 5 NBA Finals games he missed in the 2015 NBA Finals.

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Also, let’s pretend LeBron James does in fact leave the Cavaliers for the Lakers next summer. Should Kyrie stay with the Cleveland Cavaliers, he becomes the sympathetic figure, as LeBron James would once again be painted as a man abandoning his hometown for a more glitzy, glamorous destination. Irving would regain his “rightful” place as “The Man” in Cleveland with two years remaining on his contract. Sure, he’s stuck with an aging roster riddled with bad guaranteed contracts, but in an Eastern Conference without LeBron James, that team could compete for a lower seed in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

Kyrie Irving’s trade demand is understandable if you’re looking through the prism of not wanting to bite the dust should LeBron James ditch the Cavaliers in the summer of 2018. Every other prism you look through, however, cannot justify Irving’s immature stance of wanting to be “The Man”. His first three years in the league suggest he not only cannot carry the load as a team’s first option in terms of winning, but also cannot be on the court to help see that vision trough. Even in his three seasons with LeBron James, Irving hasn’t proven he can stay healthy. Why would any team risk placing their future in a guard who is unable to stay on the court? Why would you want to forgo competing for a championship when you would be nowhere closer to building towards this goal should you be traded to one of your preferred destinations, which you may not even be granted? Kyrie Irving needs to wake up before it’s too late, and realize he has been given an NBA player’s dream career: being the number one pick, being an all-star who is treated like a superstar, and playing alongside and winning championships with the greatest player ever, LeBron James. With Kyrie Irving’s trade demand and rumors circling LeBron James regarding his future plans, Cleveland might as well re-name themselves Leave-land.

 

 

NBA Western Conference Finals Prediction

The wild, wild west gets a wild, wild conference final.

The Western Conference finals have arrived, and we have a dream match-up on our hands with the 1st seeded Golden State Warriors facing the 2nd seeded San Antonio Spurs. The team that has risen so quickly to the top of the NBA faces the quiet dynasty, but will the match-up live up to the hype?

Although the Spurs took two out of three games during the regular season against the Warriors, including an opening night beat-down and star-lacking prime time showdown, the Warriors won the most important of these games back on March 29th. The Warriors, without F Kevin Durant, went into San Antonio and fell behind by as many as 22 points in the first quarter, but stormed back to win by 12 in a 110 to 98 victory. The Spurs were at full strength that game, something they won’t be in this series, as PG Tony Parker is out for the remainder of the post-season after tearing his quad in game 2 of the western conference semifinals against the Houston Rockets. To make matters worse, Spurs F and MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard is also fighting knee and ankle issues.

Obviously, the Warriors are the better team. Their average margin of victory thus far in the post-season is 16.5 points per game, and they are a perfect 8-0 in the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Spurs struggled against an offensively challenged Memphis Grizzlies team in the first round and showed signs of weakness against the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference semi-finals. However, Spurs PF LaMarcus Aldridge may have finally woken up, PG Patty Mills has filled-in well for Tony Parker, and F Jonathan Simmons has emerged as a defensive stopper for the Spurs.

The one aspect of this series that could swing in the Spurs’ favor the most, however, is coaching. Mike Brown has done an admirable job filling in for Steve Kerr for the Warriors thus far this postseason. But when you have Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson (*who has struggled this postseason*), Draymond Green, and Kevin Durant, anyone will look like a coaching genius. Gregg Popovich has been a coaching genius since the end of the 1990s, and showcased his coaching prowess in Game 6 of the semi-finals by beating the Houston Rockets by 39 in Houston without Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard. And let us not forget Gregg Popovich’s Spurs sweeping the Mike Brown coached Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2007 NBA Finals. Popovich can coach circles around Mike Brown, and eventually you have to believe the absence of Steve Kerr will hinder the Warriors.

That’s not enough, however, for anyone to believe the Spurs will defeat the Warriors.

Prediction: Warriors in 6

Bro-Commentary: The Ray Allen Celtics Beef

The 2008 NBA champion Celtics had a reunion the other night on Kevin Garnett’s Area 21 on Inside the NBA on TNT. Notably absent was Ray Allen, a member of that team, whom many of the Celtic players still have an issue with. Whose side am I on? Ray Allen’s? Or Kevin Garnett and the gang’s?