Kyrie Irving has been giving interviews since training camp tipped for his Celtics a couple weeks ago, but Howard Beck's feature that dropped Wednesday takes a much closer look at the mercurial basketball wizard. Not only that, but Irving opens up about his stated desire to leave Cleveland in the summer of 2017.
The theme of the article has to do with Irving's off-kilter—and sometimes off-putting—behavior with teammates and coaches. But it's also about how that odd behavior is primarily a byproduct of how little he trusts people when he first meets them.
As an example, Beck talks to a former Cavs assistant, Phil Handy, who joined the Cavs in 2013 at the behest of then-coach Mike Brown. Handy's big problem, once he arrived in Cleveland, was the conspicuous absence of the player he was hired to work with: Irving. Handy left a steady barrage of voice and text messages, but didn't hear a word for two weeks. After that time passed, Handy got on a flight—we really hope the Cavs paid, but doubt Dan Gilbert would foot the bill—to Miami where he knew Kyrie was working out. It turns out, that's exactly what Kyrie was hoping Handy would do.
"He was challenging me in a sense, to see how I was gonna handle it," Handy says of his first couple weeks on the job. "It wasn't just a smooth start. This kid, he was very evasive, and he was doing it on purpose. We laugh and joke about it now, because we're well beyond it."
According to Handy, this was Kyrie's rationale for the ghost protocol routine: "I didn't know you. I had to give you another number just to keep you at bay, just to see what you were gonna do."
On top of learning that Kyrie is deliberately messing with people, including that flat-Earth theory that got so much traction he eventually had to apologize, readers also learn what prompted the Earth-stopping trade request, especially in lieu of the three consecutive Finals appearances he had made paired with James. Apparently, there was no fissure with teammates or coaches. It was just time for Irving to move on.
"Change is hard sometimes," Irving says. "And deciding to do what's best for you is not gonna look the same for everyone else. So you have to willfully accept that."
"I think it was the best move for my career, honestly, because it wasn't about any particular person or anything like that. It was just time. It was just time. It may not have looked 'time' for everyone else, but for me, it was time."
These says, after all that's proven Irving to be prescient about his former team, "I think it was the best thing I've done, honestly."
We're not sure Cavs fans would even disagree.