“We got to be cool as brothers whether we’re playing together or whether we’re not playing together,” he said on the latest episode of I Am Athlete, at the 40:40 point after the topic of his 2017 trade. “We have to protect one another because it will seep into family life where people will really think that we don’t like each other based on us not being able to play together anymore, you know what I mean? ‘So you asked for a trade so you must hate that dude.’ That’s not true! So I had to defend myself, he had to defend himself, and it’s like, I’m trying to put that to bed so I can continue to build my own legacy.”
Following the conclusion of the 2016-17 NBA season, Irving requested a trade from the Cavs, with some reports suggesting he didn’t want to share the spotlight alongside LeBron. The questions about their relationship have followed him around ever since, he told I Am Athlete.
“I’m continuously reminded over and over again, ‘Yo, you left ‘Bron. How could you do that?’” he continued. “You got his fanbase, you got my fanbase, and you got team fanbases going at it, ‘Yo why couldn’t this work?’ And I say this; I asked for a trade because I was looking for something different. I was a man of my word when I went to the organization, I sat the higher ups down and said, ‘Look, I know y’all have future plans, tell me right now.’ They told me their future plans, I said, ‘Look, this isn’t for me.’”
Irving denied there was any animosity between the two of them, and said he just wasn’t interested in the plans the team had for him.
“Didn’t get a chance to talk to ‘Bron before the media ended up coming out and saying I asked for a trade,” he explained. “So I go over to China and I’m on my Nike tour, somehow the news gets leaked while I’m in China. I’m not even on American soil right now, so I can’t even get on to defend myself. … I had the conversation that needed to be had with the organization, and then I was going to have it ‘Bron. But as soon as I got over to China… Boom! … Me and him never had beef like that!”
Irving made similar comments on his Twitch stream earlier this month, according to Reddit user ImDKingSama. In a brief summarization of the Brooklyn Nets point guard’s comments, he suggested he put in his trade request because he wanted something new. Ultimately the media spun the story to depict it as though there were issues between him and LeBron, even though he said there was nothing of the sort.