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Does Kyrie Irving Implode Franchises?

Edited by Liz

Cavaliers, Celtics, Nets, and now the Dallas Mavericks.

Kyrie Irving has left franchises high and dry.

Kyrie Irving was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2011 NBA Draft. In his first 3 seasons Irving averaged 20.7 points per game, 3.7 rebounds per game, and 5.8 assists per game, which earned him an All-Star game selection in 2013 and 2014, he won the 2014 All-Star MVP.

Then LeBron James went back to Cleveland. In Kyrie’s 3 seasons with LeBron (2014-2015 to 2016-2017), he averaged 22.4 points per game, 3.1 rebounds per game, and 5.3 assists per game. He would win another All-Star selection and take the game winning shot of the 2016 NBA Championship.

Then what happened? After the 2017 season Kyrie Irving was traded to the Boston Celtics and he would go on to claim that the Cavs didn’t want him there. It was reported at the time that Kyrie Irving didn’t want to play alongside LeBron James.

Kyrie Irving averaged 24.1 points per game, 4.4 rebounds per game and 6.1 assists per game in 2 seasons for the Celtics being selected to the All-Star game in 2017. A knee injury would dampen his first season in Boston.

Heading into the 2018-2019 season, Kyrie would vow to re-sign with Celtics the following season. After finishing 4th in the Eastern Conference that season, the Celtics got swept in the second round of the playoffs by the Milwaukee Bucks.

Kyrie Irving ended up signing with the Brooklyn Nets on a 4 year-$141 million contract, breaking his promise to Celtics fans, and teaming up with Kevin Durant.

Now things get messier.

The 2019-2020 season was halted in March of 2020 due the Covid-19 pandemic. In order to finish the season, the NBA instituted the bubble. For the final 8 games of the 2019-2020 season and for the 2020 playoffs, 22 of the 30 teams that were still in playoff contention were invited to Orlando, Florida to finish out the NBA season.

Kyrie Irving was against this. Reports circulated that in meetings Kyrie would often inquire about what kind of food, beverages, and amenities would be provided within the bubble as well as other reports of being conscious that the bubble might take away from the social protests that were occurring due to the death of George Floyd.

In the end the NBA bubble happened and the Los Angeles Lakers, led by Irving’s former teammate LeBron James won the Bubble Championship.

The 2020-2021 season was probably the only normal season for the Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving led Nets. Irving averaged 26.9 points per game, 4.8 rebounds per game and 6.0 assists per game and was selected to play in his 7th All-Star game.

The Nets finished second in the Eastern conference but lost in 7 games to the eventual NBA Champions, Milwaukee Bucks.

Heading into the 2021-2022 Irving famously refused to get vaccinated which made him ineligible to play in Brooklyn Nets home games, due to New York City’s mandates. At first the Nets weren’t going to allow Kyrie to play in any of the games in 2021, but 2 months later, the Nets eventually they gave in because they realized that even as a part time player, Irving’s talents were a valuable asset to the team. In December of 2021, the Nets allowed Kyrie to play away games.

Mayor Adams lifted the mandate in March of 2022 allowing Irving to play in home games again.

The Nets finished 7th in the Eastern conference and got swept in the first round by Irving's former team, the Boston Celtics.

In May of 2022, Irving claimed he wanted to sign a long term extension with the Nets. However, upper management didn’t necessarily feel the same way after all the drama that has followed Kyrie in his career. When asked about the extension, Nets General Manager Sean Marks said, “we will see what it looks like with Kyrie moving forward. We will see if it’s the right fit for both sides.”

Nets and Kyrie couldn’t agree on the terms of a contract and the Nets allowed Kyrie to seek a trade. Kyrie ended up opting into the final year of his contract with the Nets.

On October 27, 2022, Kyrie Irving tweeted out a link to a documentary Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America. The Rolling Stone reported that the 2018 film promotes the beliefs of the “Black Hebrew Israelites, which have a long history of misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and especially antisemitism.”

Irving was given multiple opportunities by Nets owner Joe Tsai to apologize, but he tripled down on his post. He would continue to be combative and defensive during interviews. Refusing to really to take ownership of his actions.

He was suspended for 8 games and given a list of tasks to complete before being reinstated to the Nets including meeting with Jewish leaders in his community. Kyrie returned to the Nets on November 20, 2022 after completing the tasks he was given to complete. However it was clear, his time with the Nets was coming to an end.

After a slow start, the Nets fired head coach Steve Nash, replacing him with Jacque Vaughn which jump started the team and the Nets were able to find themselves sitting in the 4th seed in February.

On February 3rd Kyrie demanded to be traded.

The Nets were more than happy to comply with his request and 3 days later the 7-time All-Star was traded to the Dallas Mavericks for Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith and 3 future draft picks.

The Mavericks were 29-26 and sitting in the 4th seed in the Western Conference when they acquired Kyrie to play alongside their own superstar Luka Doncic.

Since the trade the Mavs have gone 10-17 and are 8-12 in the games that Kyrie has played in. They also fell to 11th place, eliminating them from playoff contention.

Many spectators have noticed how sad Luka has looked since the trade. Luka even said in a post game press conference, "I used to have really fun, smiling on the court, but it's just been so frustrating for a lot of reasons. Not just basketball."

Is this just who Kyrie is? Does he go to franchises, stay for a little bit, and create controversy or decide he doesn't like it? It certainly seems like it. He is a free agent at the end of the season and who knows where he decides to go.

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