Kyrie Irving finally got his wish to leave Cleveland to come true last week when the Cavaliers officially traded him to the Boston Celtics. Irving reportedly wanted to get out of the shadow of LeBron James and become the focal point of an offense. However, one sports analyst believes that Kobe Bryant played a role in Irving’s decision to demand a trade away from Cleveland.
The Cavaliers had a very crazy offseason with Kyrie Irving shocking everyone by handing a trade request to the Cleveland front office. Irving had a list of teams he wanted to get traded to like the New York Knicks, Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves, and San Antonio Spurs. The 25-year-old point guard eventually got traded to the Celtics, and it became official on August 30.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Boston Celtics sent the Cleveland Cavaliers an additional 2020 second round draft pick via the Miami Heat to complete the acquisition of Kyrie Irving. Eight days prior, Boston agreed to trade Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and the 2018 first round draft pick from the Brooklyn Nets for Irving but Thomas failed a physical. Nevertheless, the two sides were able to make the trade work before the deadline.
Irving now teams up with Gordon Hayward and Al Horford to form his own “Big 3” to battle LeBron James and the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics also have great role players such as youngsters Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum as well as Marcus Morris, Marcus Smart, and Aron Baynes while also boasting Brad Stevens, who is one of the best head coaches in the NBA today.
Many people believe that Irving wanted to get out of the shadow of LeBron James and become a superstar on his own. However, Jason Whitlock of FOX Sports believes that Kobe Bryant influenced Irving into demanding a trade out of Cleveland. In a recent episode of Speak For Yourself, Whitlock pointed out several reasons why Bryant had a hand in Irving’s decision.
Whitlock noted that Irving idolized Bryant, and they even share a bond that helps Irving become a better player. Irving credited Bryant’s “Mamba Mentality” for helping him make the game-winning three-point shot in the 2016 NBA Finals that resulted in the Cavaliers beating the Golden State Warriors for their first ever championship.
The FOX Sports analyst added that Bryant wanted to weaken LeBron’s quest for his fourth and fifth NBA championships. Whitlock even went as far as saying that Bryant still thinks he is better than James because “The King” has not tied or surpassed his championship tally. And with Kyrie Irving gone, James’ road to two more titles got tougher.
However, it should be noted that these are just rumors at the moment but Whitlock’s comments make sense in a way. Kobe Bryant denied the rumors of him influencing Kyrie Irving over a month ago on Twitter, per Lakers Nation. Bryant is known for his reserved personality, but he has taken some time to offer help to young players who want to be successful in the league.
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