College Sports

Duke basketball alum Kyrie Irving speaks on LeBron James, trade from Cavs to Celtics

Kyrie Irving, who starred at Duke for one season, took to national TV Monday to talk about his blockbuster summer trade from Cleveland to Boston, as well as his relationship with LeBron James.
Kyrie Irving, who starred at Duke for one season, took to national TV Monday to talk about his blockbuster summer trade from Cleveland to Boston, as well as his relationship with LeBron James. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Kyrie Irving’s name has been in national headlines all summer, but Monday he finally took to national TV to defend himself.

Irving, who played one injury-riddled season of college basketball at Duke in 2010-2011, went on ESPN’s “First Take” to set the record straight about his action-packed summer. Most notably, Irving spoke about his blockbuster trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Boston Celtics and about his relationship with LeBron James.

Irving told Cleveland, the team that made him the No. 1 overall draft choice out of Duke, in July that he wanted to be traded. Speculation and rumors ensued until a month later Irving was traded to the Boston Celtics for Isaiah Thomas and other players and picks. On “First Take,” Irving was asked if he informed James of his desire to be traded before it became public.

“No,” Irving said. “Why would I have to?”

Irving went on to say that while he respects James and Cleveland, he felt he didn’t need to consult others when making a decision that was best for his future.

“I don’t think you owe it to another person in terms of figuring out what you want to do with your life,” Irving said. “It’s not anything personal ... There is no time to figure out how to save someone’s feelings when ultimately you have to be selfish in figuring out what you want to do.”

Irving’s evolution into one of the NBA’s best young players was almost preordained from the time he suited up for the Blue Devils. Although a right big toe injury kept Irving sidelined for most of his lone season at Duke, he scored 17.4 points per game when he was available. He scored 28 points against Arizona in his final game at Duke, showcasing the offensive skills that made him so coveted out of high school.

After that game, he left Duke and was selected by the Cavaliers. In his six seasons in Cleveland, Irving advanced to three NBA Finals, winning one championship in 2016. He was also named an All-Star four times.

That sustained success made it surprising when Irving asked to be traded this offseason. Now Irving is hoping to carry that postseason success from Cleveland to Boston.

“I’m not here to go at any particular person or organization because I have nothing but love for Cleveland. I have nothing but love for the times I’ve spent there,” Irving said. “It’s just there comes a time when you mature as an individual.

“It’s time to make that decision.”

Brendan Marks: 704-358-5889, @brendanrmarks

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