Synopsis: With only two months to go before the start of the 2017-18 NBA season, the biggest off-season story still involves Kyrie Irving (aka The Decision, Part II). Despite three consecutive trips to the NBA Finals and one title with the Cavs, Irving presumably wants to escape the long shadow cast by teammate LeBron James. Assuming they can no longer coexist, who would you take? The answer may not be as easy as it seems.
As I sit here and write this post, multiple sources have announced a trade involving Kyrie. Specifically, the Cavs presumably have agreed to trade Irving to the Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and a 1st round pick. Oh well, I guess I can stop writing now.
KYRIE IRVING: THE ANNOUNCEMENT
I’m not going out on a limb by saying that NBA players have healthy egos. For that reason, it’s not too surprising when megastar teammates have trouble sharing the spotlight. The falling out between Cleveland teammates LeBron James and Kyrie Irving this summer simply provides the most recent example of this unfortunate reality.
Over the last decade, players like Chris Bosh and Kevin Durant have demonstrated a willingness to forego personal glory for team success. The Cavaliers’ situation seemingly reverses that trend. Instead, it mirrors the Shaq/Kobe conflict from the mid 2000s. At that time, Shaq was the most dominant player in the league. Regardless, the Lakers gave up on Superman in favor of Black Mamba after factoring the players’ futures instead of their pasts.
Arguably, the Cavs are facing the same decision this summer given Kyrie’s desire to escape LeBron’s long shadow. Unlike The King, Uncle Drew is still playing the front nine of his career. Regardless, one could reasonably argue that LeBron still offers more future value. However, without a long-term commitment from the franchise’s all-time greatest player, Cleveland’s front office has some thinking to do.
In an effort to help influence the outcome, I imagined submitting the following to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR – RE: KING JAMES
Dear King James–
You brought excitement and pride to a city in need of a win, any win, for more than five decades. Once a vibrant city of industrious entrepreneurialism, Cleveland became the “Mistake by the Lake.” You changed all of that with one Championship.
Somehow, we deserve more.
After an unfulfilling season in 2010, you left us. For as painful as “The Decision” might have been, you gave all NBA fans an excuse to empathize with our loss. Frankly, we would have been upset regardless of the circumstances. You just gave us an excuse to justify our pain by announcing the separation so publicly.
We embraced your return without prejudice. We believed every word of your heartfelt desire to return “Home.” You fulfilled your promise to give us a title. For that, we will always be indebted to you.
Still, we deserve more.
We understand your desire to be considered the Greatest of All Time. You are chasing a ghost that none of us can comprehend. We are not on your level. We thank you for taking us on your journey.
Wherever you may go, we hope you will always consider us as your family. You have given us more than we ever imagined.
Unapologetically, we deserve more.
When you brought your talents to South Beach, we suffered tremendously. If you leave again, the same will happen. Unlike the first time, this time can be different.
Importantly, you can go win more championships (with our support) as long as we’re not left in shambles. By no means does anyone in Cleveland want you to go. But if you do, please let the team respond.
Specifically, we deserve more.
Kyrie signed with us before he knew you would return. To lose both of you within 12 months would be catastrophic. For as great as you are, any team would be foolish to lose him for a one-year commitment from any player.
Please stay. You will never find the unconditional support from any other fans in the world. However, if you want to go, let us know.
Frankly, we deserve more.
Now that the trade has been announced, I imagine sending the following letter instead.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR – RE: KYRIE IRVING
Dear Uncle Drew-
You brought excitement and pride to a city in need of a win, any win, for more than five decades. Once a vibrant city of industrious entrepreneurialism, Cleveland became the “Mistake by the Lake.” You helped change all of that with one shot. Then again, it was a heck of a shot.
THE THREE BY KYRIE
Somehow, we deserve more.
After the departure of our presumed King, you tried your hardest to help us forget our misery. Despite easier paths to take, you committed to rebuild a team without a strong supporting cast. As part of that commitment, you were offered the keys to the castle.
However, before you were able to take the throne, our King returned. You graciously played second fiddle regardless of any promises made to you.
Still, we deserve more
We’re trying to understand your desire to test your greatness. Regardless, we’ll always wonder why you couldn’t give it one more shot. Was it just about egos?
Unapologetically, we deserve more.
As you bring your talents to Beantown, we will miss you. You left us, but we’re not in shambles. In fact, you left the right way. Specifically, we got something back in return. We hope you will always consider us as your family.
You have given us more than we deserved. It’s you who deserved more.
I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t see LeBron staying in Cleveland after this upcoming season. In contrast, I believe Kyrie will stay with Boston and take them back to the NBA Finals within two years. If so, I wonder how Cavs fans will look back at The Decision, Part II. Of course, it’ll depend on the outcome of The Decision, Part III with LeBron reprising his lead role from the original spectacle.
Thanks to Kyrie (and the impressive coaching of Brad Stevens), I will forget my 3-decade hatred of the Celtics. That way, I don’t have to wallow like other Cleveland fans in a post-LeBron world.