Lakers’ LeBron James ‘mad’ he doesn’t play with Mavericks’ Kyrie Irving anymore

Once upon time ago in a land called Cleveland, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving formed arguably the best star duo in the NBA on the Cavaliers. The two led the way in capturing the city of Cleveland its first championship in 52 years, winning the 2016 NBA Finals in a dramatic 3-1 comeback against the heavily favored Golden State Warriors, who had set the record for most regular-season wins (73) in NBA history that season. 

However, James and Irving split up one year later after Irving requested a trade and was ultimately sent to the Boston Celtics. A rift developed between the two at the time, but was later patched up. It was rumored that Irving could rejoin James on the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency in 2019, but he joined Kevin Durant on the Brooklyn Nets instead. Irving then reportedly attempted to force a trade to the Lakers in 2022 but eventually wound up with the Dallas Mavericks via another trade in 2023.

Regardless of how their three-year run ended, James seems to dearly miss being Irving’s teammate.

“I would call Kyrie ‘the wizard’ all the time. There was nothing on the basketball floor that Kyrie couldn’t do, and sitting here watching it, I’m so f****** happy and so proud and to watch him continue his growth or whatever the case may be, and at the same time, I’m so f****** mad that I am not his running mate anymore,” James said while laughing on the latest edition of the “Mind the Game Pod w/LeBron James and JJ Redick.” “To have a guy like Kyrie Irving as the ultimate wild card, that’s like having a ‘Draw 4′ in your hand every time someone deals you cards in UNO.”

James later opined that Irving is “the most gifted player the NBA has ever seen.”

The Lakers reportedly tried one more time to land Irving by attempting to convince him to sign with them in free agency last summer at well below market value, but he ultimately re-signed with the Mavericks on a three-year, $126 million deal.

Both James and Irving have new star duos. James and Anthony Davis have been together for five seasons on the Lakers, with them winning the 2020 NBA Finals; Irving and Luka Dončić have been paired together for the past year-plus on the Mavericks, leading them to the 2024 NBA Finals against the Celtics — Irving’s former team where he also had an acrimonious departure. That series begins with Game 1 in Boston on Thursday.

Joe Dumars on Kyrie Irving’s legacy

Joe Dumars on Kyrie Irving's legacy

In the regular season, Irving averaged 25.6 points, 5.2 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game, while shooting 49.7/41.1/90.5. This postseason, he’s averaging 22.9 points per game. Irving is a three-time All-NBA honoree and an eight-time All-Star.

James just wrapped up his 21st season in the NBA, which saw him average 25.7 points, 8.3 assists, 7.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game. He’s a four-time NBA MVP, four-time NBA Finals MVP and 20-time All-NBA honoree.

James has a player option for the 2024-25 NBA season.

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