Kyrie Irving spoke to the media for the first time since he was traded to the Dallas Mavericks in a blockbuster move, and as expected, he had a lot to say.
On Friday, Irving turned the NBA world upside down when he requested a trade from the Brooklyn Nets, which led to his departure just two days later.
Tuesday, he explained the request from his side.
“The reporting and the journalism that was going to come out of why I left, I knew that was going to be speculation,” Irving told media members in Dallas. “But for me personally, sitting in this seat today, I know I want to be places where I’m celebrated and not just tolerated, or dealt with in a way that doesn’t make me feel respected.”
He added that through his time in Brooklyn, he felt like that wasn’t always the case.
“There were times throughout this process when I was in Brooklyn where I felt very disrespected,” Irving continued. “I work extremely hard at what I do. No one ever talks about my work ethic though. Everyone always talks about what I’m doing off the floor, so I just want to change that narrative and write my own story.”
The eight-time all-star made it clear that he still had a good relationship with the players from his former team, and the “disrespect” was felt more from the front office.
“I’m always going to be close with those guys in Brooklyn,” Irving said. “Just like I’m close with the guys in Boston, just like I’m close with the guys in Cleveland. It is a team-competitive sport, but we care about each other’s family way more off the court.
One of those former players he claims to remain close with is Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, who he won an NBA title with back in 2016 during his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Before the move to Dallas, there were rumours that Irving may be traded to the Lakers and reunite with James. On Monday, James told ESPN he was “definitely disappointed” not to end up with Irving.
Irving responded to those comments Monday.
“Me and Bron have grown as human beings, he’s always gonna be my brother,” Irving explained. “But my focus is here. Unfortunately, the Lakers, they’re doing what they’re doing. That’s it.”
While he is a polarizing figure off the floor, there is no question that on the floor, Irving is still a tremendous talent. the Duke product is averaging 27.1 points, 5.3 assists and 5.1 rebounds this season. He joins Luka Doncic who is averaging 33.4 points, 8.9 rebounds and 8.2 assists.
Together they could make a potent duo that could contend in the Western Conference. The Mavericks currently sit fifth in the conference with 29-26 record.
Irving is expected to make his Mavericks debut Wednesday when they travel to Los Angeles to take on the Clippers.