Kyrie Irving is doing the best he can to avoid saying it outright, but the reason for him forcing his way out of Cleveland seems pretty clear. A star in his own right, Irving was sick of standing in LeBron James' shadow, and he was willing to sacrifice a near-guaranteed spot in the NBA Finals in order to forge his own way forward.
It's a pretty dramatic step, and one everybody with an interest in basketball is split over, including the players. On Wednesday's episode of Everyday Struggle, Damian Lillard joined the show to promote his upcoming album, Confirmed, and he weighed in on the divide between LeBron and Irving. Lillard feels the whole thing is pretty transparent, and that LeBron's ability to influence Cleveland's management eventually drove Irving away, but he also said it doesn't bother him when LeBron is pressing the Cavs to get guys like Tristan Thompson paid.
"I don't have a problem with what [LeBron] doin," said Lillard, "because I want to see everybody get paid. I hope everybody get paid and walk away and do whatever they gon' do. But I think when somebody got so much control and you got other stars, maybe they might feel some type of way about it. Maybe that has something to do with the Kyrie situation."
The more interesting angle is from a pure basketball perspective, where it just feels crazy to walk away from one of the best players of all-time. Though some have suggested playing with LeBron is not all it's cracked up to be, Lillard was quick to point out that it's not always fun to play alongside greatness, but it will definitely help you reach the promised land.
"People said it wasn't fun playing with [Michael] Jordan, it's just what you're willing to deal with to win, because you're going to win," said Lillard.
Speaking of trying to win, Lillard also dished on trying to bring Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony into the fold for his Portland Trail Blazers. Lillard believes the Blazers would be a top-three team in the West if they can somehow bring Anthony in, and he discussed his respect for the veteran with the Everyday Struggle crew.
"Right now we're trying to figure out any way we can get better, and he'd make us better, a lot better," said Lillard. "Melo is my type of dude, I like Melo, like how he operate, there's just certain stuff about him that just give me that vibe. They were coming at him last season, talking about this and talking about that, a lot of other dudes would have been quick to shoot back and do all that. But just how he handled it, that said everything I needed to see. Usually I don't even do all the trying to recruit and get people to come, but that thing alone I was like, I can run with him."
You can hear Lillard talk about the LeBron/Kyrie split around the 32:10 mark in the video up top, and the segment on Anthony starting around 51:30.