What to make of 2023 Kyrie Irving?
The former Duke star has had a tough few years. He left Cleveland, resentful of the long shadow cast by LeBron James. He requested a trade in 2017 and was sent to the Celtics. However, he soured on the Celtics and moved to Brooklyn as a free agent. He had his moments in Brooklyn, but the pandemic made things tough in many ways, not least of all because Irving very publicly declined to be vaccinated and the team grew increasingly frustrated with him.
Ultimately he was shipped off to Dallas, but the Mavericks didn’t show much improvement this year after he arrived.
Now he will be a free agent again and may rejoin LeBron James as a Los Angeles Laker. The question now is stark: after what happened with the Cavaliers, the Celtics, the Nets and (possibly) the Mavericks, is he a bad gamble?
To be clear, we’ve never seen a player with Irving’s insane skill level. He does things that none of had seen before and few had even imagined were possible. Irving is truly a spectacular talent.
That’s not the question anymore.
The question now is simple: can he subordinate himself to a team? On and off the court?
And there’s not really a clear answer right now given how his runs with Cleveland, Boston and Brooklyn ended - and that doesn't even get into the odd headlines that pop up frequently, the weird controversies that follow him around like the dark clouds that cursed Joe Btfsplk around Lil’ Abner in post-war America.
It could be that the best thing would be to rejoin James in LA. LeBron is clearly near the end of a brilliant career, but even now, at 38, he retains tremendous skill and his game has eroded very slowly. He has innate authority that Irving resented in Cleveland. And the truth is, they probably need each other at this stage in their respective careers.
Could they reunite and lead LA to one more title?
Possibly. And keep this in mind: Irving is surely aware of what is being said about him A move to LA might give him the best chance to recast his legacy.
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