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LeBron James said he was “hurt” after hearing former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate Kyrie Irving bash his late-game skills during the NBA Finals in October.
The Los Angeles Lakers star – and recently crowned NBA champion – finally addressed Irving’s comments on Monday, months after the Brooklyn Nets point guard told Kevin Durant on his podcast that he was the first clutch teammate he’s ever played with.
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“Once I got the whole transcript, I was like, ‘Damn,’” James said on the Road Trippin’ podcast. "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.'”
He continued: “I played with Kyrie for three seasons. The whole time when I was there (Cleveland), I only wanted to see him be a MVP of our league. I only cared about his success. And it just didn't align. 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.”
“It kinda hurt me a little bit.”
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Irving was drafted by the Cavs in 2011. James joined him in 2014 and the duo would go on to win the NBA championship in 2016. Irving was then traded to the Boston Celtics in 2017 before finally joining Durant in Brooklyn in 2019.
While appearing on Durant’s podcast “The Etcs,” Irving took a subtle jab at James saying “I felt like I was the best option on every team I played for down the stretch.”
“This is the first time in my career I’ve looked down and be like, ‘That [expletive] can make that shot, too.’ And he’ll probably do it a lot easier.”
He added: “… in past situations where I didn’t take the last shot, I felt guilty. I want this game-winning shot, but also, you want to trust your teammates. Not that I didn’t trust my teammates, but I felt like I was the best option.”
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James said the timing of Irving’s comments were especially difficult.
“It was a f—ed up time. Because it was the Finals … the middle of the Finals,” he said. “When I was seeing that and I read it, and then I got the full transcript and I heard it, I was like, ‘Man, f–k.’ I was like, ‘Are you f—ing kidding me?'”
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