Two years ago, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving led the Cleveland Cavaliers to their first NBA championship, coming back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Golden State Warriors in their best-of-seven NBA Finals series. While this marked a milestone, not only for the Cavs, but for the city of Cleveland, which had not been home to a major league sports champion since the Browns won the NFL championship in 1964, a new rumor suggests that Irving wasn’t onboard with the prospect of James’ return to Cleveland for the 2014-15 season.
On Friday, a report from NBC Sports cited comments made by The Athletic’s Jason Lloyd when he appeared on radio station 92.3 The Fan Cleveland and suggested that per “multiple people,” Irving did not feel it was necessary for James to become a Cavalier once again in 2014, four years after he controversially announced that he would be signing with the Miami Heat.
“LeBron said something to Kyrie on the court following a game when he was with Miami, something to the effect of, ‘Keep going. Keep doing what you’re doing. You never know. I could be back here one day’ or something like that. And Kyrie went in the locker room and basically said, ‘We don’t need that. What’s he talking about? We don’t need that guy.'”
— Yahoo Sports NBA (@YahooSportsNBA) July 6, 2018
Lloyd went on to stress once again that Kyrie Irving felt LeBron James was needed back in Cleveland, adding that the story had been told to him by “many, many, many people” connected to the Cavaliers.
At the time, Irving’s rookie contract with the Cavs was coming up in 2014, the team had tried to keep him in Cleveland by promising to acquire both James and Kevin Love, a plan that was “far-fetched” at the time, according to NBC Sports, but nonetheless worked out in the end. The publication added that Lloyd’s remarks are a sign that Kyrie Irving had “LeBron fatigue” even before James returned to the Cavs, and that both superstars had to fight an “uphill battle” to maintain a good relationship on the court during their three years teaming together.
In addition to Lloyd’s story shedding light on Kyrie Irving’s alleged resistance to LeBron James’ Cleveland homecoming, NBC Sports also opined that it showed how James can make his plans public to other people well before they actually come to fruition. While LeBron didn’t exactly make anything known to the Lakers’ Lonzo Ball when the two had a well-documented postgame discussion in December, 2017, NBC Sports hinted that James might have been “laying the groundwork” for his next big free agency decision months before it happened.