That was either an intentional slight of LeBron James (which Irving denied) or an unintentional slight of LeBron (which isn’t great either).
Trust Irving’s explanation or not. But even the favorable interpretation is he just forgot about playing with LeBron freaking James. That’s still pretty disrespectful.
Though Irving tried to paint the public as overreacting to the quote, know who was bothered by it? LeBron, who heard it while leading the Lakers over the Heat in the NBA Finals.
LeBron on “Road Trippin'”:
I was a little like, “Damn.” Once I got the whole transcript, I was like, “Damn.” I wasn’t like, “Aw, you’re tripping. I’ve hit game-winning shots my whole life.” I was not like that. I was like, “Damn.”
I played with Kyrie for three seasons. The whole time while I was there, I only wanted to see him be an MVP of our league. I only cared about his success. And it just didn’t align. It just didn’t align. And we was 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 it kind of hurt me a little bit.
It was f***ed-up timing. It was f***ed-up timing, because it was the Finals.
I was like goddamn. I came back. Anytime the media asked question about Kyrie – and we had multiple times where the media wanted to **** on Kyrie. I was the buffer. I was like, “Listen, you are guys tripping. This kid is young. He’s great. He’s going to learn. I’m here to help him learn, and I know what he’s going to become.”
And sometimes, you put yourself out there, and then you get hit in the mouth when you’re not ready for it.
This answer ironically explains why LeBron and Irving clashed on the Cavaliers. Though I believe LeBron (mostly) meant well, Irving resented being viewed as LeBron’s de facto son.
And Irving – well, he’s (intentionally or not) taking potshots from a distance.