Now that the deal is absolutely, 100 percent, officially official, and Kyrie Irving is now the starting point guard for the Boston Celtics, the four-time All-Star on Thursday took a moment to bid a fond farewell to the fans of the Cleveland Cavaliers who have followed his career and supported him since the team chose him with the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NBA draft.
There had been weeks of silence from Irving — on this particular subject, anyway — following his reported request that the Cavs trade him so that he’d no longer have to share the floor with LeBron James. He remained mum on the matter as the deal hung in limbo over the health of Isaiah Thomas’ injured hip. On Thursday afternoon, though, Irving offered a two-pronged social media goodbye, pivoting toward Massachusetts via video …
… and through the ‘gram:
"My special thank you to Cleveland" *Link in Bio. My love extends way beyond the court I have for Cleveland and it will always be a place thats special because of the great people and experiences. The Ups and downs, we stand and fight no matter what the circumstances are, and that's what being in Cleveland embodies, it is all Love and a whole lotta pride. To the incredible individuals I've met who support the Cleveland organization and help allow us as Players to feel a special bond to the State/City and shared countless moments with, keep being YOU and know that my appreciation is eternal. Thank you From my whole being for being there as I was a 19 year old kid coming into the league, to now where I start another step in the journey as a 25 year old Evolving man. It will Always be Love and respect Cleveland. "The journey is always the Reward" #KyrieWick
A post shared by Kyrie Irving (@kyrieirving) on Aug 31, 2017 at 10:04am PDT
Irving didn’t specifically reference the trade, which sent him to Boston in exchange for fellow All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas, forward Jae Crowder, rookie center Ante Zizic, the Brooklyn Nets’ unprotected 2018 first-round pick, and the Miami Heat’s 2020 second-round pick. Instead, he focused on the good times. From the caption of Irving’s Instagram post:
My love extends way beyond the court I have for Cleveland and it will always be a place that’s special because of the great people and experiences. The Ups and downs, we stand and fight no matter what the circumstances are, and that’s what being in Cleveland embodies, it is all Love and a whole lotta pride. To the incredible individuals I’ve met who support the Cleveland organization and help allow us as Players to feel a special bond to the State/City and shared countless moments with, keep being YOU and know that my appreciation is eternal. Thank you From my whole being for being there as I was a 19 year old kid coming into the league, to now where I start another step in the journey as a 25 year old Evolving man. It will Always be Love and respect Cleveland. “The journey is always the Reward”
Irving also capped the post with the hashtag #KyrieWick, evoking the “John Wick” film franchise in which Keanu Reeves plays an assassin lured out of retirement and back into the violence-dispensation business by the murder of his dog. (It looks like he first adopted the name in an Instagram post last month.) I suspect the intimation is that Kyrie plans to strike the league with a vengeance next year and leave opponents buried under a barrage of shots; I can only hope no animals are harmed in the making of this spiritual sequel. (Stay safe, Moondog.)
Irving offered slightly more expansive remarks in a “special video” farewell “just strictly to Cleveland, and all of those who are just finding that self-love, and that’s what I’m here to bridge the gap for.” You heard the man, Northeast Ohio: love yourselves! (Just not in public. I’m pretty sure that’s illegal.)
“This is a special thank you to Cleveland,” he said. “I love all you guys’ support, and all you guys’ love, over the course of the amount of years I was in Cleveland. And I say that because I know that the journey continues from this point on, and there will be nothing but love that I have for the organization and what we got to be a part of, because there are some special individuals there. And I’m shouting out you guys, and you guys know who you are.”
Irving thanked Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, managing partner Nate Forbes, former general manager David Griffin (“‘the bald guy,’ as he likes to be called,” Irving said) and Nick Gilbert, Dan Gilbert’s son, and said he appreciated the organization for giving him his start:
They took a chance on a 19-year-old kid that was coming off a stubbed right toe and being in a very, very immature place at the time. Because, I mean, what 19-year-old doesn’t take their time and make decisions? But man, I grew up — excuse me, I spent part of my life and my years in the NBA in such a great environment in Cleveland. […]
I just wanted to say that all the individuals I met over my six-year span — and I don’t say it as if this is an ending friendship or anything like that — but you guys understand how much those moments meant to me, and connecting with everyone. Because it matters, and I care, and I love the world, and I love people, and I love being around people. So as guarded as I am, and as everyone likes to say that I have a wall up, spending two minutes or five minutes asking someone genuinely about themselves is what I truly care about. To be able to share those moments with just everyone in Cleveland and everyone in Ohio, and doing something that was just an unbelievable experience for all of us — I still can’t believe the feats that we reached in a six-year span — and I’m truly grateful and I’m thankful.
All the same, Irving’s tenure in Cleveland has come to an end. He addressed the reasons why early in the video, after saying that he’d come to understand that “the magnitude of decisions that you make in your life can affect a lot of people, all at once.”
When you get to that point, and you understand that the best intentions for you, and ultimately to be in your truth, and find out what you really want to do in your life and how you want to accomplish it, that moment comes and you take full advantage of it. And there are no other ulterior reasons, other than being happy and wanting to be somewhere where you feel like it’s an environment that’s conducive for you maximizing your potential as a human being, and as a player perfecting their craft.
Irving ends the video — after what looks to these untrained eyes like a cut at the 4:15 mark — with a word for his teammates. No specific teammates, for what it’s worth:
“And to my teammates: crazy stories, crazy experiences, and just unbelievable human beings, man,” he said. “Y’all know how this brotherhood goes, man. All love.”
As a reminder, when news of the trade first broke nine days ago, LeBron saluted a fan who’d offered a respectful tribute to Irving on his way out the door:
Irving will get his chance to address LeBron and his former ‘mates more formally — and Cavaliers fans will get the opportunity to make their voices heard — in about six weeks’ time, when the Celtics and Cavs kick off the 2017-18 NBA season at Quicken Loans Arena.
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