A History of LeBron James and Kyrie Irving's Complicated Relationship

This is how LeBron James and Kyrie Irving's relationship has played out over their careers.

When we think about the Cleveland Cavaliers’ dynamic duo of LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, it’s hard to believe three years have already gone by. They’ve been to three straight NBA Finals together, and even won a title for The Land in 2016. They’ve brought out some of the best basketball in each other, with LeBron’s supernatural passing and basketball IQ aiding Kyrie’s growth into one of the game’s elite scorers.

As a pair, there hasn’t been a more devastating force since LeBron re-signed with the Cavs in 2014. That’s why it’s even harder to believe that Kyrie wants out of Cleveland, and furthermore, doesn’t want to play with LeBron anymore.

But, as ESPN reported over the past week, that’s Kyrie’s wish, and the 25-year-old star point guard will probably get it, too. And just recently, The Athletic reported that he wasn’t even speaking to the organization, full-stop. With LeBron’s Robin intent on leaving, we’re looking back at the moments that have lead us to this contentious point.

June 23, 2011: LeBron Leaves, But in Comes Kyrie

Kyrie Irving leads his team on the court.

April 4, 2014: The First Signs of Trouble in Cleveland

Kyrie Irving plots his next move.

In the four years between LeBron leaving and coming back to the Cavs, the franchise was left to Kyrie. He continued to shine as a developing star, but the Cavs couldn’t put together a young core around him, and endured 215 losses in that times pan. The Cavs had another concern on their hands too: with Kyrie’s rookie contract set to expire soon, ESPN reported that he just wasn’t feeling the vibe in Cleveland. Here’s what ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said at the time:

“The truth is [Kyrie's] camp has been putting out there for years - years - that he doesn't want to be in Cleveland. That they don't want him in Cleveland.”

July 11, 2014: The King Comes Home

LeBron James cracks a smile during a game.

Nov. 5, 2014: LeBron Sons Kyrie

LeBron James and Kyrie Irving get in the zone.

LeBron James is a basketball perfectionist, and he consistently demands the most his teammates have to offer. He’s a very direct leader. When you’re on LeBron’s team, you’re playing his game to win, because LeBron’s just that great. But after an early season loss to the Jazz, LeBron didn’t think his point guard was buying in fully.

Yes, Kyrie dropped 34 points that game, but the team lost, and he didn’t record a single assist. LeBron thought that was unacceptable from his point guard, and lectured him after the game. Kyrie said it went down like this, according to Cleveland.com

"He came up to me and was like, 'One, you can never have another game with no assists. You can damn near have just one, two, three, but you can't have zero.' And I was like, 'All right, cool, it won't happen again.' And it hasn't happened since that game."

June 19, 2016: The Cavs Win Their First NBA Title

The Cleveland Cavaliers lift their first NBA championship trophy.

LeBron and Kyrie did it! They overcame a 3-1 NBA Finals deficit against the vaunted Golden State Warriors, not to mention a do-or-die Game 5, and became the first pair of teammates to score over 40 points each in a Finals game. They were absolutely unstoppable:

View this video on YouTube


Suddenly, everything felt right in the world. This is probably the happiest the two have ever been together. For a summer, basketball love came back to Cleveland.

July 21, 2017: Kyrie Wants Out

Kyrie Irving yells at one of his Cavs teammates.

July 22, 2017: LeBron Throws Shade on Snapchat

LeBron James poses for a selfie.

One day after the Kyrie trade news broke, LeBron posted a video of himself jamming out to a few new tracks from Meek Mill, one of his longtime favorite artists. With his head shaking and a brim covering his eyes, LeBron vibed out to a verse about loyalty. In particular, this line was perceived as a shot at Kyrie: "The streets love me with a heavy heart/N***** say they with you when they really not." 

Watch and listen closely:

LeBron James feeling Meek Mill's new song. 👀🔥


— NBA SKITS (@NBA_Skits) July 22, 2017

July 25, 2017: The Petty Wars Are Underway

LeBron James and Kyrie Irving celebrate a big play.

Just a few days ago, Kyrie unfollowed LeBron on Instagram. You can brush it off as nothing, sure, but when has an unfollow ever been a good thing between two people in a relationship? Never. You unfollow someone when you don’t fuck with them anymore. Kyrie did just that. 

Latest in Sports