INDEPENDENCE, OHIO - Aside from a few social media posts here and there, LeBron James had yet to truly weigh in on Kyrie Irving's request for a trade, which ultimately led to the Cleveland Cavaliers sending the 4-time All-Star guard to the Boston Celtics this past summer.
That changed on Monday at the Cavs' annual media day. And rather than run from the topic, James embraced it, suggesting the Irving saga when asked by a reporter which topic he'd like to tackle first at his press conference.
"Let's do the Kyrie thing," James said with a smile.
Asked what he felt when he found out his now-former All-Star teammate wanted to be traded, James admitted to having an emotional response, to the point that he reached out to Irving to see if he was the reason he wanted out.
"I was wondering whether it was something I could have done better to make him not want to be traded," James said. "Is it the way that the season finished? Or was it me coming back in the first place? Was it the coaching changes or the GM change, or, I don't know. I had so many different emotions go through my head.
"I don't think anybody in the organization saw this coming. It was definitely a shock."
James admitted the dialogue between the two this summer had been brief -- "you guys know Kyrie," he joked of the infamously mercurial 25-year-old -- and seemed to have a positive view of where his relationship had previously stood with Irving.
"I tried to do whatever I could do to help the kid out and so he could be the best player he could be," James said. "I tried to give him everything, give him as much of my DNA as I could. As I said throughout [last] season, at some point when he was ready to take over the keys, I was ready to give them to him."
James went on to note that his biggest gripe with Irving's departure is that he's now a member of the Celtics, who finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference last season before falling to the Cavs in the conference finals. The 4-time MVP, however, did express satisfaction with the return Cleveland received for Irving, with the Cavs acquiring All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas, forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic, the Brooklyn Nets' 2018 first-round pick and a future second-round pick.
As for his relationship with Irving, James admitted the emotions aren't over just yet. After all, the two will be seeing each other soon, as the Cavs will open the 2017-18 campaign on Oct. 17 with a home game against Irving's Celtics.
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