One week away from his return to Cleveland to face his former team, Kyrie Irving stoked the flames of his former fanbase when the Boston Celtics guard said of his new home, “Boston, I’m driving in and (thinking), ‘I’m really playing in a real, live sports city?"
Suffice to say, Irving's comments didn't play well in Cleveland -- especially when they occurred on the same day the New York Yankees eliminated the Indians in Game 5 of the American League Division Series. On Friday, four days away from his team's season opener against Irving's Celtics, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue came to his city's defense.
“He can do what he wants to do," Lue told ESPN's Dave McMenamin. "But we know in Cleveland, we have a great sports town in Cleveland. A great city, fans behind the teams 100 percent, so I’m happy to be here.”
Lue did his best to downplay his former player's comments, as did new Cavs guard Dwyane Wade, who played last season in Chicago after spending the first 13 years of his career with the Miami Heat. But while Wade opted to give Irving's comments about Cleveland the benefit of the doubt, the 12-time All-Star also told McMenamin that he's always tried to be careful not to disrespect the cities where he used to play.
“You just never know those things, so I never want to leave a place and talk s--- about a place," Wade said. "Because when you were there, it was great, and then you leave, it’s terrible? It’s just like players. Fans celebrate players when they’re there, and then they leave, and it’s the worst thing. That’s not me. That’s not how I do things. I’m appreciative of what people have done for me, what organizations have done for me, and I hope they’re appreciative of whatever I can bring or whatever I’ve done -- on and off the court. So, it doesn’t always go that way, but that’s the way I try to make it when I can control it.”
Irving will return to Cleveland on Tuesday when the Cavs host the Celtics in a nationally televised season opener for both teams.
At this point, a warm welcome for the 4-time All-Star, who requested a trade from Cleveland this past summer, appears less than likely.