In 2014 Kyrie Irving, the biggest star in Cleveland sports at the time who had just signed a 5 year extension to remain with the Cavaliers, was just as shocked as everyone else when LeBron James announced that he would sign with the Cavaliers and “come home”. Kyrie was 22 at the time and was the face of the post-LeBron Cavalier franchise; his “Uncle Drew” videos had been incredibly popular and he was just starting to be regarded as the best 1-on-1 player in the league.
What many don’t understand or simply don’t know about Kyrie is that he wants to be The Man. He never asked to be the Pippen to LeBron’s Jordan because he always wanted to be Jordan. He has proven to be much more similar to Kobe Bryant than Michael Jordan. Reports have swirled that Kyrie is jealous of other young point guards like John Wall and Damian Lillard, players who are the stars of their respective franchises and are treated as such. The irony in that situation is that both Wall and Lillard have never gotten close to the NBA Finals. Kyrie wants to be catered to, he wants to be the man that the franchise is built around, and he wants the ball to be in his hands and only his hands in late game situations.
There is just one tiny issue with his desire to be The Man, and that is the unfortunate reality that when he has been The Man, his team has been horrible. When LeBron doesn’t play but Kyrie does, the Cavaliers win less than 30% of their games. Vice Versa, when LeBron plays but Kyrie doesn’t the Cavaliers maintain their 60% victory clip. Kyrie shoots more than LeBron (about 1.5 shots per game more) and scores 1.2 points per game less than LeBron, even though Kyrie makes 3 pointers and free throws at a significantly higher clip than LeBron does.
Kyrie’s record without LeBron wasn’t just dismal after LeBron arrived and the team was built to support him, his teams were terrible before LeBron returned as well. The problem with Kyrie that nobody talks about when he is lighting it up on the offensive end is that he is about as close to being a literal sieve as physically possible on the defensive end. For every point he scores on the offensive end, he gives up more on the defensive even though he has tended to have excellent rim-protectors behind him since he arrived in the league.
You see, Kyrie may have the championship ring and the huge Nike shoe deal, but he has the ring because of LeBron and the shoe deal because he is a 1-on-1 legend, not because he is a 5-on-5 legend. Kyrie is a supporting character, he isn’t Kobe Bryant or Scottie Pippen though, and he’s more of a Klay Thompson when he needs to be more like Tony Parker. He won’t be though, so he should get used to many more losses rolling his way if he decides to leave LeBron and his championship pedigree.