Kyrie’s time in Cleveland could take a Kobe turn

Dan O'Shea

The easiest thing to do in the world of basketball is to compare players and the situations they’re in to the past. Whether it’s draft prospects, free agent decisions, or ego issues, it can all be linked back to someone from the past. As of right now, Kyrie Irving is currently part of the absolute sh-t show that is brewing in Cleveland, but as we’ve learned, the night is darkest just before the dawn. Just like it happened with Kobe Bryant in the past, Irving’s trade request could turn into more hardware. 

If you’ve been too busy diving into the intense cornhole championships on ESPN or watching the same episodes of shark week for the ninth year in a row, you might’ve missed the drama surrounding Cleveland Cavaliers’ point guard Kyrie Irving. Irving is done being the Robin to LeBron’s Batman, the pepper to his salt, the other Jonas Brother, or any other second banana reference you can possibly make. He’s so fed up with playing under LeBron’s shadow that he wants to play for the Knicks.

 


Saying you want to head to New York to play for the Knicks rather than staying in Cleveland is essentially saying you would like to willingly live in a dumpster that is more often than not set on fire while people boo you everywhere you go than stay in your current situation. It is the most obvious yet subtle beg for a trade this world has ever seen. If Kyrie Irving got “I NEED TO GET OUT OF HERE” tattooed on his forehead in helvetica bold font size 72 bold letters, it would not be heard as loudly as “I badly want to be traded to New York.”

Irving’s desire to head anywhere including the seventh layer of basketball hell that is Madison Square Garden isn’t just a cry for help, but a trip down memory lane as we fondly remember the artist formerly known as the Black Mamba, Kobe Bryant.

Before you pick up your pitchforks and feverishly search for my address in a full manhunt for simply mentioning Kyrie Irving in the same sentence as Kobe Bryant, this isn’t a comparison of the player, what he is, or what he will become. It’s simply a comparison of the disgruntled star, and how it could end up. The real similarity between Kyrie and Kobe is the fact that he mirrors the Mamba in two separate points of his career.

First, we can analyze how Kyrie is similar to 2004 Kobe Bryant. You can put the stats aside, because that would insinuate the Kyrie can reach that same level Kobe did once Shaq was the first one to head to South Beach. It’s clearly similar from a very basic standpoint where Kyrie and Kobe both want to be out of the shadow of the clearly bigger star at the time. It will always be LeBron’s team as long as him and Irving are both there, just like the Lakers were Shaq’s team when him and Kobe were winning championships.

You can also compare it in the way where Kyrie, just like Kobe, does not care about the hellstorm is he creating around him. Kobe and Shaq’s divorce was one of the messiest we’ve seen in sports. The incredible fall from their championship run to their clear hate for each other was like walking into a room where your ex and the person they dumped you for were dancing in. We’re at the point where LeBron reportedly wouldn’t mind tossing Kyrie Irving a beating if they crossed paths.

 

Granted, LeBron has already refuted that report and listening to anything Stephen A. Smith says is like taking sailing advice from the captain of the Titanic, but the fact that it has gotten to the point where that’s even touching the news shows how messy the situation has become, a la Shaq/Kobe back in ’04.

That’s where Kyrie’s mentality is similar to Kobe’s. Situationally, Kyrie Irving is more similar to 2007 Kobe Bryant where he requested a trade from the Lakers.

 

Again, it’s similar on a very basic level. Irving is a superstar who is asking for a trade, just like Kobe. Kobe didn’t get traded, and ended up competing for three more championships wearing a Lakers uniform. That’s exactly where we’re heading.

Granted, there are some differences. Kyrie is competing for a championship on a yearly basis, and all signs pointed for that trend to continue if he stayed in Cleveland. Kobe on the other hand, was tired of not going for a ring. He carried Los Angeles to the playoffs for three straight years and got no further than the first round of the playoffs. This was also post-Shaq, so he had no bad blood with the other superstar who was still in town. If Kyrie was to stay, he would have to go and play with the very man he said he didn’t want to play with anymore.

If you look past the reasons and focus on the future, what happened with Kobe is exactly what’s going to happen with Kyrie. Kobe wanted to go to the Bulls, and was done with Los Angeles. Guess what? Kobe Bryant was not the General Manager of the Lakers. The Cavs took months to find a GM so Kyrie easily could’ve slipped into the front office and tried to make some moves as the interim man for the job, but sadly he is also not the GM. The Lakers couldn’t find a deal for Kobe, just like the Cavs likely won’t find one for Kyrie either, especially with Carmelo Anthony blocking any sort while he waves around his no trade clause and shops for condos in Houston.

 


Kyrie wants out of Cleveland but that’s not his decision to make. The Cavs can try to make moves if they want, but there are few deals they would and should make. If you’re Cleveland and you are trying to trade your superstar building block of the future, you not only need a fair return for Kyrie, but you need players that can be convincing enough to keep LeBron in Cleveland next season.

If anything, this could end up being an extremely similar position to Kobe, if you just morph the two situations of his career together. Irving can possibly request a trade, not get traded, and still get out from LeBron’s shadow, which is exactly what happened with Kobe. The only difference is, that happened over the span of three years for Kobe, and happened over two separate occasions. This would be one big occurrence that would happen over the course of one year, ranging from now to when LeBron leaves next year.

No matter what way you look at it, Kyrie is acting like Kobe, and will end up like Kobe. You have to treat Kyrie like an emotional and pissed off significant other. Just yes him to death, agree with him until everything calms down, and then continue to go about business as usual once everything calms down instead of going back to the drawing board and downgrading to the first schlum that approaches you when you’re banged up at a bar (which in this situation is the trade deadline).

No one can compare Kobe and Kyrie on the court, but Kyrie is doing his best to mirror Kobe off of it. If Irving isn’t dealt, he’ll have the same second-option mentality the Black Mamba had, with the same outcome. People in Cleveland are just hoping it ends up with the same amount of hardware for Kyrie.

 

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