In late July, when news surfaced that Kyrie Irving had requested a trade from Cleveland, many questioned the four-time All Star’s character: Why would someone want to leave LeBron James just to be “The Guy?”
Warriors forward Draymond Green viewed Irving’s trade demand differently than most. While others vilified Irving, Green began to appreciate him even more.
“I’d say more than anything, (it upped) the respect level I have for him,” Green said Tuesday. “That’s tough to do. I don’t think people take into account that he put so much pressure on himself by doing that. But the willingness to do that knowing the pressure that comes with that, saying, ‘I’m ready to do it.’ That’s what stood out to me.”
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Green’s comments echo those of Kevin Durant. During a podcast with Bill Simmons last month, Durant lauded Irving for prioritizing his own goals over what others want from him. It was just last summer that Durant learned firsthand that, in putting personal interests first, players make themselves a target.
Though he has caused plenty of problems for Golden State in recent years, Irving is friendly with Durant and Green. The three got close playing for Team USA at the Summer Olympics last year.
“It’s not the surprise of, ‘Hey, Kyrie wanted to leave,’” Green said. “That happens all the time. It happened with Shaq and Kobe and has happened with a ton of other guys in the NBA over the course of the years.
“A lot of people would say LeBron is the greatest player in the world, and I don’t say this in disrespect to LeBron — but for Kyrie to say, ‘I don’t want to play with him no more, I want my own thing,’ that’s big because you have to deliver with that.”
— Connor Letourneau