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Kyrie Irving takes Kobe Bryant over LeBron James on a shady Monday

Kyrie had A LOT to say.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

In case you haven’t heard, Kyrie Irving is a member of the Boston Celtics and has been pouring gasoline on the bridge he took to get away from LeBron James in Cleveland there all summer. Monday on ESPN, Kyrie lit the match and dropped it in astonishing fashion.

Irving sat down for a revealing interview with Stephen A. Smith, Molly Qerim and Max Kellerman on ESPN’s First Take. Kyrie candidly opened up about his mindset since requesting his trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers, ironically using the same platform LeBron used to take his talents elsewhere to get a lot off his chest.

Smith had Kyrie in a full-court press throughout the entire interview, digging for his thoughts on his trade request being leaked. Irving unloaded.

“I felt like the timing was impeccable, if you ask me. I think that... how ironic it was that I was on my China trip and how my trade request all of the sudden just came out publicly. It was hurtful because I knew how professional I kept it throughout the whole entire process, and how strategic it was because I knew that it was going to be madness and it turned out to be like that.

“And when you’re living in a reality base and I’m a very awake individual, and you have all these exterior forces trying to change or skew everyone else’s opinion and I’m not able to say anything, and I’m sitting back and being very very patient... it became something that I didn’t understand because of the amount of moments that we had together as a team,” Irving said.

That small portion of the interview can be seen here.

Alternatively, Kyrie summarized the situation up in a nifty 19-second clip:

Well then. My immediate thoughts after listening to Kyrie discuss the process from trade request rumors to Celtics trade can be best summed up via this:

There’s some weight to Irving seeing three NBA Finals runs with LeBron. Injuries doomed one, Irving’s Game 7 three-pointer clinched the title for the Cavaliers the second time around, and Kevin Durant cheat codes were enabled in Round 3.

It’s interesting to consider, at least, especially given some of the quotes coming out of the First Take interview, and the large trail of crumbs explaining the relationship between Kobe and Kyrie. You can go through an assortment of highlights from the interview on

Or, just fast forward to listen to Kyrie explain why Durant is encroaching on LeBron’s territory, while also taking Kobe Bryant over James on his favorite hoopers list.

“You award guys for winning, and he went to Golden State and won. He’s a solidified champion now, so he’s able to be in those talks,” Irving said when asked if Durant is catching James.

Smith followed it up with a fastball down the middle, weaving in the Kobe question. The set up is profound.

“You respect your teammate, your former teammate now LeBron James. But you love Kobe. A lot of people look at Kobe and LeBron. Which one should we go with, as we look at history? You’re a basketball savant,” Smith pitches away.

“Man they’re both up there, but in terms of who my favorite player is: My dad first, Kobe second. You know how I feel about that,” Irving said as he launched a homer out of Bristol and into the parking lot of TD Garden.

*All quotes transcribed via

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