“I tried to do whatever I could do to help the kid out and so he could be the best player he could be,” James said at the Cleveland Cavaliers‘ media day. “I tried to give him everything, give him as much of my DNA as I could. As I said throughout [last] season, at some point when he was ready to take over the keys, I was ready to give them to him.”
James’ words didn’t take long to reach the Boston Celtics‘ media day, but Boston’s new star guard still wouldn’t offer any hints when asked to reply to James’ reflections about if he could have done more to keep Irving in Cleveland.
“If we ever have that conversation — I don’t think it’s for anybody else but me and him,” Irving said Monday.
When James learned of Irving’s trade request in early July, he reached out to Irving to try to understand his reasons. James and Irving still have not communicated since the trade with Boston was executed.
“I reached out to him because I just wanted to get a little insight on why he felt like he wanted to move on,” James said. “He basically just let me know that that was the direction that he wanted to go in. And I was OK with that. And it’s a business. I understand that. … The kid wanted to do what was best for his career, and I give credit to our GM, Koby [Altman], and our ownership for granting that for him.”
When pressed on the topic about James’ comments, Irving still wouldn’t bite.
“That’s what I’m saying, even if there are things, it’s not anybody else’s business,” said Irving. “It’s really between two men. … That’s between two men.”
“I don’t think anybody in the organization saw this coming,” James said. “It was definitely a shock, but we did a great job, like I said, Koby and the guys in the front office, putting together a great package for our team to be as complete as we’ve been in a long time. That’s what I’m truly excited about.”
Having had to return to the city of teams he departed in the past, James said he expects opening night, when the Celtics visit the Cavs, to be emotional for Irving. But he won’t be reaching out with any advice.
“I don’t have any advice for him now,” James said. “I don’t have any advice for him or any people that are on any other team. We’re trying to win a championship. You’re either with us or against us.”
Irving, when asked about James’ tweet following the August trade, did praise both James and the Cavaliers organization for the way they nurtured him as a younger player.
“When you talk about a special guy like [James], when you come into a team and he’s able to teach you a few things and you’re able to lean on him — not only him, but all the individuals that are on the team — to help you progress as a man and as a player, you try to take the good things from that and apply it to anything that you do in your life,” said Irving. “A lot of the things that I’ve learned from him, as well as being in that organization, being with those veterans that were ahead of me because, at one point, I was on the oldest team in the league. … If you’re not picking up some experiences and learning from those veterans, then what are you really in this game for?”
Irving was then asked if he simply wanted to have that post-trade discussion with James.
“I mean, like I said, if it happens or not, I’m pretty sure you guys won’t know about it,” said Irving. “It’s not whether or not, it’s really just about having the respect of two men and having that conversation be accepted. That’s all.”