CLEVELAND — As if the Cavaliers and Browns don’t have enough trouble winning games. Now, their most prominent stars are going at it.
Cavs All-Star guard Kyrie Irving and Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon are having a spat through the media, exchanging barbs across TV, Twitter and newspaper.
Gordon, who led the NFL in receiving yards last season, fired the first verbal volley last week when he went on ESPN’s “First Take” and discussed Irving’s problems this season with teammate Dion Waiters.
“I talked about it with Dion,” Gordon said. “He’s my neighbor in my building so we hang out all the time. I’m aware of the rift in the locker room. That’s just alpha males and supreme athletes trying to share the spotlight.”
Irving didn’t waste any time in shooting back, telling the Akron Beacon Journal, “Guys like Josh Gordon need to stay in his sport and mind his own business. Does he still play for the Browns? I’ll continue to root for the Browns, but in terms of this stuff here, what goes on in this locker room, he needs to stay out of it.”
On Sunday, Gordon responded to Irving via social media by tweeting: “Smh. (shake my head). … i touched a nerve.”
Irving spent the weekend in a vortex of controversy. Before Saturday’s home game against Charlotte, Irving said he has grown tired of media reports saying he wants to leave Cleveland.
“The barrage and little bit of attack that I saw, I’ve been getting it all season and I feel I definitely don’t deserve it,” Irving said. “It’s one of those things where I can deal with it, but at a certain point, it’s gotten too much. It’s been like that the whole entire season.”
Irving then went out and scored a career-high 44 points in Cleveland’s 96-94 overtime loss, a defeat that pushed the Cavs to the edge of being eliminated from the playoff chase. The 22-year-old Irving, who recently returned from a biceps injury, said he has been unfairly scrutinized.
“It’s all nonsense to me,” he said. “That’s part of the business. I get it. It’s part of the job. To go out and frame my character to something it’s not. … I’m not an attention seeker. I don’t go out trying to put all these rumors out. For people that feel that it’s a good thing to continue to put my name in the headlines to get reads, that’s your job, but at a certain point it’s got to stop.”
Irving’s stance is just the latest turbulence in what has been a bumpy season for the Cavs.
The team fired general manager Chris Grant in March, and the Cavs have been wildly inconsistent in a season that owner Dan Gilbert had predicted would end with the first playoff appearance since 2010 — before LeBron James left.
The Cavs can offer Irving, who was the MVP in this year’s All-Star Game, a maximum contract extension this summer. To this point, Irving has said he enjoys playing in Cleveland but has been noncommittal about whether he’ll accept the Cavs’ long-term deal.
Maybe Gordon knows.