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Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James said he had to pause once he heard recent comments from former teammate Kyrie Irving that seemingly questioned James’ late-game clutch abilities.
“I was a little like, ‘Damn.’ Once I got the whole transcript, I was like, ‘Damn,'” James said during an appearance on the podcast “Road Trippin.” “I wasn’t like, ‘Oh, you trippin’. I’ve hit game-winning shots my whole life.’ I was not like that. I was like, ‘Damn.'”
Irving’s comments came in October when he called current Brooklyn Nets teammate Kevin Durant the first teammate he feels he can trust to take late-game shots over him during a podcast interview. Irving notably hit a game-deciding three-pointer in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Game 7 upset win over the Golden State Warriors in 2016 to help secure James an NBA title with his hometown team.
“I played with Kyrie for three seasons (in Cleveland). The whole time when I was there, I only wanted to see him be a MVP of our league,” LeBron said. “I only cared about his success. And it just didn’t align. And we were able to win a championship. That’s the craziest thing. We were still able to win a championship, and we could never align. But I only cared about his well-being, both on and off the floor. … And (Irving’s comments) kind of hurt me a little bit.”
Irving and James played together from 2014 to 2017, reaching three consecutive Finals and winning the title in 2016.
“It was part of the reason why I came back home,” James said about leaving the Miami Heat to return to the Cavaliers. “Besides the unfinished business, I came back home because I saw the talent in him.”
James just won his fourth NBA title with the Los Angeles Lakers and finished second in MVP voting in 2019-20. Irving’s comments came right before James won his fourth ring.
“It was a (expletive) up time. It was a (expletive) up time,” James said. “Because it was the Finals … the middle of the Finals. … When I was seeing that and I read it, and then I got the full transcript and I heard it, I was like, ‘Man, (expletive).’ I was like, ‘Are you (expletive) kidding me?’ … I was like, ‘God damn.'”