NBA superstar LeBron James has opened up about his seemingly frosty relationship with former Cavaliers teammate Kyrie Irving.
The four-time league MVP said during a recent podcast appearance that he's only wanted the best for Irving throughout their relationship -- and was taken aback after Irving appeared to take a subtle dig at him on Nets teammate Kevin Durant's podcast.
Back in October, Irving made headlines when he said he himself had always been his teams' best late-game scoring option during his nine-year career, but was now looking forward to splitting that responsibility with Durant in Brooklyn.
The comment turned heads at the time -- and now LeBron has confirmed it resonated with him as well.
James, discussing the incident on the Road Trippin' podcast with former Nets star turned YES network analyst Richard Jefferson, said he was "hurt" by Irving's remarks, and suggested the two stars simply didn't hit it off for whatever reason.
“I played with Kyrie for three seasons," James said. "The whole time while I was there, I only wanted to see him be [the] MVP of our league. I only cared about his success. And it just didn’t align."
Yet, despite their differences, the Cavs' former dynamic duo still managed to bring a title to Cleveland, James noted.
"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. And it kinda hurt me a little bit.”
James, who was in the midst of a playoff run with the Lakers when Irving's comments surfaced, said he acquired a transcript to make sure they were being reported and interpreted correctly.
“So, when I heard the comment Kyrie made, I wanted to, one, not only find the transcript, but also call my people [to] send me the transcript,” James said. “I had heard he did it on KD’s podcast. I was a little — I was a little like, ‘Damn.’ Once I got the whole transcript, I was like, ‘Damn.’ 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.’"
Irving later clarified his comments, griping that media reports had taken them out of context in pursuit of "clickbait."
The James-Irving era in Cleveland came to a close after the 2016-17 campaign, when Irving stunned the basketball world by requesting a trade in an apparent bid to forge his own path without LeBron.
Irving was dealt to the Celtics, and later signed with the Nets after two up-and-down seasons in Boston.