Kyrie Irving speaks candidly about anonymous sources and “media fatigue”

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The subject of boundless speculation and criticism that often bordered on unfair, Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving opened up during an interview with Las Vegas media to discuss pressure, the last few years of life in Cleveland, and what it’s like to be in the crosshairs of daily journalism while playing for a struggling organization.

“So many false articles and so many people that have inside sources that don’t even know what’s going on inside my circle,” Irving said of the reports. “[They] said I didn’t want to be in Cleveland, it was all a bunch of BS. Now that I’m actually in Cleveland for the long term, it’s a great monkey off my back, a great relief. I was going to sign it regardless. I knew it the whole time. That’s what some media people do. They want to make a story. I’m just happy that it’s all over. I signed my contract and I’m in Cleveland for five years.”

Irving, through little fault of his own, immediately be came the face of the Cavaliers following the departure of LeBron James—the city and fans looking for a player to cling to in order to help fill that void left by the fleeing hometown hero. The team tried very hard to keep any hagiography from occurring, but as each draft and free agency period went by, yielding little in the way of star-caliber players, all of the focus was continually placed on the now-22-year-old two-time All-Star whose team was perennially among the worst in the league.

“Dealing with the daily grind of being ‘that guy’ every single day [was hard],” Irving said. “I wanted [the responsibility], but it gets a lot harder, especially as you get older and become the ‘marquee guy’. It’s something you have to go through.

Through much of the 2013-14 season, Irving was the focal point of sourced reports that painted him as a player with one foot out of the door. Continually, Irving found himself on the defensive, having nothing to use but his words. This was until he signed a five-year extension that will potentially keep him in Cleveland through 2020.

Irving, entering his fourth season, admitted that he struggled with becoming a “leader”—a role he was thrust into due to his skill set, marketability and talent level—and appears to be more than willing to take a back seat to LeBron James when it comes to reestablishing himself in the role that was his prior to July 2010. His defense will still be scrutinized. His body language should improve with each win. If anything, the fact that the contract status (and reports of unhappiness and inner circles) should be well behind him and the fans, allowing for all focus to turn to the floor—finally.

  • MrCleaveland

    I have to sympathize with Kyrie. Too many media members now think they have to make news or create news instead of just the reporting news that’s already there. And they have to do it ten times a day.

    So all this speculation, guesswork, unsourced leaks, and wishful thinking are passed off as “news.” And we pay way too much attention to it.

  • mgbode
  • Harv 21

    It was Windhorst who was so certain that “for years” Kyrie’s “camp” was stating he wanted out of Cleveland,

    http://probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com/2014/04/04/brian-windhorst-kyrie-irving-doesnt-want-to-be-in-cleveland-hat-should-impact-contract-extension-talks/

    Windy may not get that he’s now frequently used to spread bad info by agents whispering sweet nothings. Greatly respect the guy but he’s got to tighten up. (No gifs, please).

  • mgbode

    Too late. BW though has fallen. He used blackmail to land a better gig in Miami and now is merely being used like most ESPN-cronies. Given the information that will cause clicks to happen regardless of the truthfulness of the information.

    Gotta say, the best part of the letter was that LRMR went through SI and forced reference to SI in all reports. Whoever wrote the letter and devised that strategy was incredibly smart with how they played that one out.

  • Harv 21

    blackmail? Really.

  • thenoclist

    My favorite Windhorst gem:

    “And the other thing is: if the Cavs ever dream of having LeBron, it’s not going to be with Kyrie there. LeBron and Kyrie have drifted apart in the last few years, even to the point that if the Cavs wanted to get LeBron they would maybe trade Kyrie for someone who would fit better with LeBron. And I’m not making that up. That line of thinking was not originated by me. That’s just the truth.”

  • mgbode

    yes. it was not until he claimed to have a bunch of backroom stories that he was going to make public (giving the Riley Dec. dinner as a tidbit) that ESPN then gave him the Miami job to cover LeBron.

    those stories never did come out.

  • Steve

    ” I was going to sign it regardless. I knew it the whole time”

    And yet, you left everyone twisting in the wind.

    “They want to make a story”

    It was a story that the Cavs all-star was not even giving hints that he wanted to re-sign. It would have all been over if you had said “I’m going to sign it regardless” back when the issue first came up.

    I’m sympathetic to an extent, but Irving certainly did a poor job of responding to the situation, especially if he truly was always planning to stay in Cleveland. It makes one wonder if he knew beforehand that Lebron was coming, and he wasn’t actually a lock to stay until that point.

  • mgbode

    No RFA in history has turned down the max extension. Now, many have put in opt-out clauses, but none have turned it down. The Cavs were also posturing at the time (they never publicly came out and said they were giving him the max until they did), so Kyrie had a reason to play coy. Kyrie likely knew that if he was offered it, then he would sign it. But, he couldn’t be 100% that they were offering it either.

  • Steve

    I considered it very unlikely that he was going to turn it down as well. Like you said, no one has turned that deal down yet. But there’s no hysteria if Kyrie says that he’d prefer to stay here. It’s not his fault that it came up – like I said, I am sympathetic to an extent, but he had a lot of chances to put the issue to bed, and he didn’t. I guess my issue isn’t that he didn’t say that a few months ago but that now he’s saying “I was going to sign it regardless. I knew it the whole time. That’s what some media people do. They want to make a story. I’m just happy that it’s all over.”

    If you knew the whole time, and actually were upset about the controversy, you had the power to end it then. The logic doesn’t add up.

  • mgbode

    He certainly could have used stronger language when he was being asked. I don’t know that it would have quelled the concerns though as page click quotas need to be met. Regardless, he’s here now, he’s signed and most would be pretty shocked if he’s traded.

  • Steve

    Absolutely agree. Just wish he wouldn’t insult our intelligence or wave off his faults along the way.

  • Harv 21

    wow. Forgot about that one. Juuust a bit outside.

  • Harv 21

    Wha? How would that blackmail ESPN? And if you’re instead claiming he promised them scoops, why didn’t they can him when there was none? Correlation (if there is any) is not causation. I think the explanation less paranoid explanation for his job offer was his excellent writing and reporting and his (then) unparalleled familiarity with the horse ESPN intended to ride.

  • mgbode

    ESPN very much wants to protect their product. It is the biggest issue with having the network that carries the games also be the one reporting news on those leagues. The Big-3 Miami Heat were their golden goose.

    And, yes, maybe I’m being too conspiracy theorist with it.

  • Wow

    Between him and Broussard’s nonsense it’s amazing either still has a job.

  • mgbode

    And, as long as we are talking about players who reportedly want out, Greg Monroe still wants out of Detroit and would certainly fit into our void at center (as we both have maintained).

    (oh, please be careful as this is a very good blog, but they do not have very good language filters on their comment section):
    http://www.detroitbadboys.com/2014/8/1/5958785/nba-rumors-greg-monroe-pistons-wants-out

    Of course, the question becomes what we could give up of value to obtain Greg Monroe. I am not sure that SVG would entertain Andy + Haywood’s contract and I am not sure which players will be left if we trade for Kevin Love. Of course, if we do not trade for Kevin Love (or at least not before the season), then we would either have another trade chip for a trade or a differing set of assets.

  • RGB

    Any chance Cleveland get it’s very own “Heat Index”-type of corner in the ESPN.com universe?
    I’m not holding my breath…

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    He was quoted as calling the reports of him wanting out “bullshit”. Doesn’t get much stronger than that. Everybody just hears what they want to hear.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    YES to Monroe!!!!

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Love is coming!

  • eldaveablo

    It’s tidbits like this that finally did it for me. I don’t believe anything The Worldwide Leader is assuming as fact (e.g., Wiggins is definitely involved in the trade for Love, there are no other teams in the running for Love, he won’t stay in MIN for any part of this year, etc). I am convinced they have a decidied upon narrative that they stick to until they are proven wrong.

  • Steve

    “Everybody just hears what they want to hear.”

    And nobody heard “going to sign it regardless” until Irving could deflect the negativity onto someone else.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    Hah, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that nothing is final until pen is on paper. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard any athlete ever say they were 100% going to sign something prior to signing it. It’s the nature of the business.

  • Steve

    Again, absolutely agree. Which is why I’m more annoyed, and it’s really just an annoyance, I’ll be long over it by tomorrow, at this latest bit than anything else. He either thinks we didn’t pay attention to his not-actually-a-confirmation or he has a Lebron-level need to have his ego soothed.

  • mgbode

    Do we want it?

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    Or, you know, he’s just really annoyed because everyone kept saying he was going to leave when he had no intention of doing so.

  • mgbode

    You are wrong. They will stick to a narrative until it stops generating page clicks. Then, they will create a new narrative to generate page clicks.

  • RGB

    Not really.
    Just pointing out the Four Letter’s bias toward the “glamour cities”.

  • Steve

    The media did ask for verification. That quote I just put up wasn’t from “sources in Kyrie’s camp” to an out of town reporter. That was in the media room or locker room, out of Kyrie’s mouth, to the Plain Dealer. He had the chance right then to end the conversation. He choose to fuel the speculation instead.

  • saggy

    well done.

  • saggy

    Kyrie: “I’m signing here regardless!!”

    Cavs: “That’s wonderful news. Here’s your deal for $9.3 million per year over 4 years, with a club option for the 5th.”

    It would be plain old bad business for him to give up his leverage.

    (By the way – i was just trying to say that Austin Jackson was expendable before. that’s pretty much it – and it devolved into some random fight about the value of defensive metrics in WAR.)

  • Rocko
  • Rocko

    Sorry had to post a Wiggy update even though it’s a Kyrie story.

  • Rocko

    Re: NBA Jersey info

    Credit to @rubechatdan via Jon Krawczynski twitter (good source for Wolves info)

  • Mr. Big Volume

    C’mon guys, get a little better on the reporting here. Everyone knows most of these stories Kyrie is referring to came from Brian Windhorst. Everyone knows you guys are cool with him, but please point out the obvious.

  • THE_DDOJSIOC

    I don’t know if you watched the Blue vs White game tonight (thoughts to George and his familia) but Kyrie was wheeling and dealing, just awing the crowd. Irving has another gear that he can engage, especially under the bright lights. Don’t think that LeBron didn’t see Kyrie drop 41 in the Darth Vader mask. Like many have said, media talk (especially Windhorst/Chaz Bono) is cheap.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com/ Scott @ WFNY

    We linked to the stories in question. If you want to read someone thoughtlessly trade in media shaming, you’ve come to the wrong place.

  • The_Matt_Of_Akron

    He still has a t-shirt for sale though. Why one and not the other?

  • Bryan

    Echoing Saggy a bit: .

    This is HIGH STAKES business. There are millions of dollars on the line. Even if a player wants to stay in a given place, it hurts his negotiating position to state that publicly. Both the Cavs and Kyrie, while wanting to come together on a deal, needed to protect their negotiating power. It sucks for the fans, but I applaud the players for becoming more savvy in their negotiating tactics. The teams and owners will trade them or cut them as soon as they are unproductive, so the players need to maximize their contracts while they can. I wish LBJ had signed a longer deal, but I also appreciate that he is leveraging his power. Its smart business. And I think its unfair for the fans to get mad at the athletes for being good business men.

  • BenRM

    ANONYMOUS SOURCES! ERRONEOUS!

  • BenRM

    Monroe’s defense is pretty bad though. And assuming the Cavs get love, they don’t need another scorer. I mean, I wouldn’t be upset if Monroe comes to Cleveland, but I think they could use a center with a little more defensive presence.