Kyrie Irving says the Cavs wouldn’t give him the keys to the kingdom.
The All-Star point guard forced himself out of Cleveland last summer, and says that he happily took a backseat to LeBron James.
"I wasn't the face of the franchise. They made that very clear."
— NESN (@NESN) October 9, 2018
Irving credits James with having pushed him to evolve as a player.
“I didn’t really see it as that, man,” Irving said about being James’ “lieutenant,” via CLNS Media. “I honestly just saw it as a point in my career in which I needed to learn and grow. I took as much knowledge as I could, and I moved on with my career.
” … I think the biggest thing is … I had to learn a lot about the game of basketball. Being with ‘Bron, and being with Mike Miller and James Jones — being around the veterans like that was one of the first time I went from being one of the youngest to one of the oldest. So, whether it was a lieutenant, sergeant, whatever you want to call it to ‘Bron, I think that being around him and his basketball knowledge as well as all the other veterans that complemented us at that time was something I needed.”
Irving also hinted at that notion Tuesday, noting on several occasions he never was going to be the “face” of the Cavs. “I wasn’t the face of the franchise,” he said. “They made that very clear. I was just a great piece in Cleveland — which I gratefully accepted.”
Irving later added, “They weren’t giving me the keys to the franchise,” a possible nod to James claiming he was, in fact, ready to “give the keys” to Kyrie before he requested a trade in the summer of 2017.