Kyrie Irving’s Move To Celtics Happened Despite LeBron James’ Protest

Kyrie Irving wanted the Cleveland Cavaliers to trade him in the summer of 2017 because he no longer wanted to play alongside LeBron James.

The feeling wasn’t mutual.

According to The Athletic’s Joe Vardon, James made it clear during a phone call with Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman on Aug. 22, 2017 — the day word broke that Cleveland had agreed to trade Irving to the Boston Celtics — that the team shouldn’t deal the All-Star point guard.

“James was adamant on the call — do not trade Irving, especially to the Celtics,” Vardon wrote in a piece published Monday. “By the end of the call, according to four separate accounts of people present for the conversation, Altman told James the trade would not occur.”

Obviously, the Cavs didn’t heed James’ advice. Instead, they traded Irving to the Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 first-round pick (later used to draft Collin Sexton at No. 8 overall).

As fate would have it, the Celtics and Cavaliers ultimately played each other in last season’s Eastern Conference finals despite a rotating cast in Cleveland and season-ending injuries to Irving and fellow Boston star Gordon Hayward. And the Cavs emerged victorious in seven games. But now, the C’s are positioned for future success with Irving while the Cavs own the NBA’s worst record thanks to the departure of James, who signed with the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency this summer.

“Everyone knows that when Kyrie got traded it was the beginning of the end for everything. It’s not a secret,” James said, according to Vardon.

It’s impossible to say what would’ve happened had the Cavs not granted Irving’s request for a trade. Perhaps a deal was inevitable, with the real misstep being Cleveland’s willingness to pull the trigger on a questionable deal with a conference rival. After all, Irving wanted out. Simple as that.

But James evidently wasn’t pleased with the Cavs’ decision to trade Irving, which, in hindsight, probably sealed the deal on his second exit from Cleveland. And the Cavs now could spend some time in the basement after several seasons among the NBA’s elite.

Thumbnail photo via Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports Images

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