CLEVELAND - One week ago, ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported that Kyrie Irving had asked the Cleveland Cavaliers for a trade.
And regardless of the real reason behind Irving's request, there now at least seems to be a rift -- if not, a fracture -- in the relationship between the guard and his fellow star teammate, LeBron James.
While Irving and James have been teammates for the past three seasons, their relationship predates James' return to Cleveland in the summer of 2014. And with Irving being the player to replace James as the face of the Cavs' franchise following James' departure from Cleveland in 2010, their respective careers were perhaps always destined to intertwine -- regardless of whether they were teammates or opponents.
With that in mind, let's take a look back at the rocky relationship between arguably the two biggest stars in Cavs history and see how we got to a point where a breakup now appears inevitable.
July 8, 2010
Following his seventh season as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, James announces he will leave the franchise that selected him first overall in 2003 in order to sign with the Miami Heat as a free agent.
June 23, 2011
Following a 19-63 season, the Cavs enter the 2011 NBA Draft with the first and fourth overall picks. With the draft's top pick, Cleveland selects Irving, who average 17.5 points and 4.3 assists in 11 games at Duke in the lone season of his college career.
February 25, 2012
Despite maintaining a contentious relationship with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and the Cleveland fanbase following his departure, James posts a tweet wishing Irving and fellow Cavs rookie Tristan Thompson luck at their first All-Star weekend.
“We talk a lot; I’ve been knowing Kyrie since he was a ninth grader and it’s been great to see him continue to get better over the years and do the things he’s doing in Cleveland right now,” James said, according to Windhorst. “He’s been playing great. He’s been showing why he’s the No. 1 pick in the draft. Cleveland got a great pick.”
In the same article, Irving was asked about taking over as the Cavs' new franchise player and stated: “I wasn’t really worried about filling LeBron’s shoes or filling that void. I was worried about being the best rookie I could be. I set my own goals and on that goal list was never 'be like LeBron.'"
May 15, 2012
After averaging 18.5 points and 5.4 assists, Irving is named the NBA's Rookie of the Year, becoming the first Cavaliers player to win the award since James in 2004.
February 17, 2013
Irving and James team up for the first time, playing for the Eastern Conference in the 2013 All-Star Game. James scores 19 points while Irving adds 17 off the bench a day after winning the three-point contest. The East falls to the West 143-137.
February 16, 2014
Irving and James help avenge the East's loss to the West a year prior with a 163-155 victory in the 2014 All-Star Game in New Orleans. With 31 points and 14 assists, Irving is named the game's MVP. As he's presented the trophy, James, who scored 22 points and recorded 7 rebounds and 7 assists, can be seen celebrating front and center.
July 11, 2014
James announces his return to the Cavaliers as a free agent. In an essay announcing his return on Sports Illustrated's website, James states, "I think I can help Kyrie Irving become one of the best point guards in our league."
Nov. 4, 2014
Following an early season loss to the Portland Trailblazers, which saw James score just 11 points as Irving went 3-for-17 shooting, James seems to take a jab at the play of his new star teammate and fellow Cavs guard Dion Waiters.
"There's been a lot of losing basketball around here for a few years," James said. "A lot of guys who are going to help us ultimately win haven't played a lot of meaningful games in our league."
Two days later, Windhorst reports James and Irving "exchanged words" in the locker room following the game.
June 4, 2015
Despite their sluggish start to the season, the Cavs bounce back to advance to the NBA Finals. Cleveland loses Game 1 to the Golden State Warriors in overtime after Irving leaves the game with what turns out to be a fractured kneecap. The Cavs go on to lose the series in six games.
January 5, 2016
After missing nearly the first two months of the season, Irving returns to the Cavs lineup. In his sixth game back, he scores 25 points in a 122-100 victory over the Toronto Raptors.
After the game, James touts Irving's potential to ESPN's Dave McMenamin.
“I mean, there would never be a question if Kyrie Irving is the MVP as long as he’s on the floor and he’s healthy,” James said. “There’s not many guys, if any, at the point guard level that’s better than him. So I don’t think it should even be a question.”
June 13, 2016
Facing a 3-1 deficit -- and a second straight Finals loss to the Warriors -- James and Irving score 41 points apiece in a 112-97 Game 5 victory to keep the series alive.
June 19, 2016
The Cavs complete their historic Finals comeback, capturing their first NBA title in franchise history and Cleveland's first championship in 52 years. James ("The Block") and Irving ("The Shot") provide two of the most critical plays in the Cavs' 93-89 victory.
June 12, 2017
The Warriors beat the Cavs in Game 5 of the 2017 NBA Finals to win the series 4-1.
James averages a triple-double for the series with 33.6 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists and Irving averages 29.4 points, attempting the most shots on either team with 123.
July 7, 2017
Irving reportedly meets with Gilbert and acting general manager Koby Altman to request a trade. Among his grievances, according to ESPN, "Irving was tired of being Robin to James' Batman."
July 21, 2017
News of Irving's trade request first becomes public. A day later, James posts an Instagram video rapping along to the lyrics of a new Meek Mill song, which many take as a dig at Irving.
July 25, 2017
James takes to Twitter to deny specific reports of a rift between himself and Irving.
Later that day, Irving posts a Snapchat video of himself singing along to Skylar Grey's chorus in the Diddy song "Coming Home." Many interpret the post to be mocking of James, who famously used the song as an anthem during his 2014 homecoming.
July 29, 2017
Irving serves as a member of the wedding party in Dallas Mavericks forward Harrison Barnes' wedding. Later that evening, former Cavs center Brendan Haywood posts a video of Warriors guard Steph Curry seemingly mocking James' workout routine as Irving laughs along.
Lowkey shots at Lebron? 👀 pic.twitter.com/2UGLTG55LO— Remi 💕 (@ViewsFromRemi) July 30, 2017
August 2, 2017
Curry denies he was mocking James in the video from Barnes' wedding. Yeah, OK.
August 4, 2017
James posts a series of workout videos to his Instagram account, alongside lyrics from the new Meek Mill album, including, "they wanna see me fall. I know. I know" and "I will never lose."
August 7, 2017
While attending rapper Drake's OVO Fest, James posts a tweet with a lyric from the song "Portland."
Never let another ride your wave 🌊!!!— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 8, 2017
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