It’s not often that a player that requests a trade and is moved to a great situation holds so much resentment towards his former club. For whatever reason, Kyrie Irving has been on a media tour all summer seemingly trying to throw gasoline onto the the fire of the rivalry between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics. This week he took shots at Cleveland, saying it was great to play in a “real, live sports city”.
Via ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue didn’t have much time for Irving’s shenanigans and responded with a deadpan joke:
“Oh, I thought he was talking about Cleveland,” Lue said at the Cavs' shootaround Friday morning ahead of their final preseason game against the Orlando Magic. “I’m happy to be here. I thought he was talking about Cleveland the whole time.”
“I don’t know,” Lue said. “He can do what he wants to do. But we know in Cleveland, we have a great sports town in Cleveland. A great city, fans behind the teams 100 percent, so I’m happy to be here.”
Dwyane Wade also addressed Irving’s comments, per ESPN:
“My thing has always been -- even in Miami -- first of all, you never know where you’re going to be, what’s going to happen, where you’re going to end up, who you’re going to be teammates with,” Wade said. “You just never know those things, so I never want to leave a place and talk s--- about a place. Because when you were there, it was great, and then you leave, it’s terrible? It’s just like players. Fans celebrate players when they’re there, and then they leave, and it’s the worst thing. That’s not me. That’s not how I do things. I’m appreciative of what people have done for me, what organizations have done for me, and I hope they’re appreciative of whatever I can bring or whatever I’ve done -- on and off the court. So, it doesn’t always go that way, but that’s the way I try to make it when I can control it.”
It’s clear that for whatever reason, Irving felt like he was slighted in some way during his time in Cleveland. Most of the comments he’s made have appeared to be calculated and an attempt to hit on all the notes that would generate a reaction.
Criticizing Cleveland for not being a real sports town appears to be yet another instance of that. The dedication and support of the fans to their teams through thick and thin is something that has always been a source of pride among the fan base. It was an area of focus in LeBron’s letter when he announced he was returning to Cleveland. It’s clear that Irving is doing whatever he can to get under the skin of the fan base and gain attention.
Irving may have not felt that Cleveland was a real sports town throughout his time with the team. But if he wants to make the NBA Finals once again, he’ll need to come through Cleveland.