Kyrie Irving Is His Own Man

    Don’t get it twisted. Kyrie Irving is not the villain in this story.

    Sure, some think Irving, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ All-Star guard, is crazy to demand a trade away from a championship caliber team.

    Others have ridiculed him for not wanting to play any longer with the current best basketball player on the planet, LeBron James.

    Some LeBron fans see it as a dis. Reportedly, James is furious about how it looks to his reputation.

    A few NBA experts have even said Irving is making the biggest mistake of his career.

    No way, no how.

    Especially if the mole information out of Cleveland is correct. Peeps there told me the reason Irving has had enough and is ready to move on has to do with his recent discovery that James wanted Irving traded after they won the championship together two seasons ago. Irving hit the game-winning shot to help seal the Cavs’ first title and the city of Cleveland’s first championship in 52 years.

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    The story is that James went to then-general manager David Griffin and told him to deal Irving for his good friend Chris Paul, the then-L.A. Clippers point guard.

    It was the ultimate betrayal and, apparently, cut Irving deep. Hence, there’s no trust.

    That’s why Irving – the former overall No. 1 pick in the 2011 NBA draft – is willing to leave the comforts of Cleveland for another place to call home. For many, without trust, there’s no relationship.

    This scenario makes total sense if you think about it.

    Imagine having gone to battle with a dude you thought had your back. You win the big prize, achieve the ultimate goal. Then you find out your guy wants his guy, not you.

    It would make a real dude want to walk out, set up his own shop, build his own squad and lead it to a championship.

    Enter Irving, a four-time All-Star. It says a lot about this dude. Believe it.

    The best news was when you read Irving’s wish list of teams. It didn’t include the Golden State Warriors. That’s how most cats in this NBA get down.

    Even better, it included the New York Knicks. Yes, that fabled franchise that is currently God-awful.

    Yes, Irving said he would be willing to not only give up the chance for a $200-million max deal, but play for a team that the last time they won in 1973, sportswriters were still using typewriters.

    Amazing.

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    In this AAU Era, where great players want to team up with each other and beat lesser competition, Irving is a breath of fresh air. Irving is bucking the trend James started.

    Better yet, Irving to the Knicks isn’t some pipedream. The Knicks have the superstar player you need to give up in order to land Irving, who is from New Jersey.

    The Knicks can finally send Carmelo Anthony packing – and a future first round pick – and restart the franchise with Irving, just 25. He’s ready to lead and already has a title in his back pocket. 

    Apparently, the Knicks now have to get Melo to agree to waive his no-trade clause in order to make the deal.

    Some think Melo would rather go to the Houston Rockets – joining James Harden and Chris Paul – rather than play with James.

    The other teams on Irving’s list include the Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves and San Antonio Spurs.

    Sure, the Cavs have Irving locked up for three more seasons (he has $60 million left on his contract). But Kyrie could opt out of the final year before the 2019-’20 season.

    The Cavs don’t have to trade him, if they don’t want to.

    But you honestly can’t believe LeBron and Irving will be able to move past this public spat and continue to play together.

    Herd w/Colin Cowherd on Twitter

    I applaud Kyrie… give him a lot of credit for bucking the trend that LeBron started.” – @RobParkerFS1 https://t.co/hmSHLpDcxE

    Plus, owner Dan Gilbert had a week to dismiss the trade demand. He didn’t. On Wednesday in a press conference, Gilbert would only say that it’s possible that Irving would be in training camp for the upcoming season. He didn’t guarantee it. Remember that point.

    The best look is for Irving to get his wish – freedom, and his own team to lead.

    It wouldn’t only be good for the Cavs, but for the NBA as a whole.

    Stop ripping Irving. Applaud him.

    Rob Parker is a columnist for The Shadow League. He is also an analyst for Fox Sports 1 in Los Angeles. He co-hosts The Odd Couple on Fox Sports Radio and is also an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California.