NBA

LeBron James is proud of Kyrie Irving but admits he misses former partnership

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Ever since LeBron James left Cleveland, he’s been looking for a partner that can propel his team towards another championship. Even though he did find one in Anthony Davis, with whom he earned a purple and gold title in 2020, the search continues for the perfect point guard that will unlock their potential. 

Now that Kyrie Irving is making the headlines and set to play his first NBA Finals since 2017 this Thursday, as Boston will host Dallas in Game 1, the Lakers superstar couldn’t help but say how proud he was of his friend.

However, he also admitted just how much he misses playing alongside him. “I’m so f—ing happy and so proud to watch him continue his growth,” James told co-host JJ Redick in the last episode of their Mind the Game podcast. “I’m so f—ing mad at the same time that I’m not his running mate anymore.”

The eight-time All-Star played alongside LeBron for three seasons with the Cavaliers. Their partnership made it to three straight NBA Finals and finally earned the title in 2016, with a legendary three-point shot from Kyrie, who clinched the championship in Game 7 against the Warriors.

“I just remember those times,” James said, reminiscing on one of his best moments as a basketball player. Now as the oldest athlete in the league, the 39-year-old is still looking to win his final NBA title before his imminent retirement.

The highest scorer in NBA history even went out of his way, and openly lobbied for Irving to come to Los Angeles before the last February trade deadline, but he eventually remained at Luka Doncic’s side in Dallas. James lamented he wasn’t reunited with his former teammate.

“I can’t sit here and say I’m not disappointed on not being able to land such a talent, but [also] someone that I had great chemistry with, and know I got great chemistry with on the floor, that can help you win championships, in my mind, in my eyes,” the superstar said about Kyrie in February.

Despite most experts placing Boston as favourites to win, LeBron believes that Irving is the ‘wild card’ that could earn the title

According to most betting sites, the Celtics are favourites (-255) to conquer their first NBA championship in over 15 years. Nevertheless, LeBron isn’t convinced about this at all, and he even thinks that Irving’s presence will make a difference at the end of the series. The Lakers forward used Kyrie’s Game 1 display against the Timberwolves as an example, to demonstrate how he alone can lead his team to victory.

“That was like, ‘Oh s—, Dallas may be able to not only win the Western Conference finals, they might be able to win the whole thing,'” he said as the veteran guard hit 24 of his 30 points in the first half. “Because of that [Irving] wild card. … He’s the most gifted player the NBA has ever seen.”

This postseason, the 32-year-old has been averaging 22.8 points on 48.5% shooting (42.1% from 3) with 5.2 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.2 steals per contest so far, and is without a doubt the Mavericks’ No. 2 best option behind Luka Doncic.

“To have a guy like Kyrie Irving as the ultimate wild card,” James insisted, as he believes this will make the series unpredictable. “It’s like having a Draw 4 in your hand every time someone deals you cards in Uno.”