Kyrie Irving was bothered by a knee injury throughout the 2015 playoffs, and he completely missed two games in the Eastern Conference finals.
Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com on 92.3 The Fan Cleveland:
This annoyed LeBron and LeBron’s people to no end. They were calling him soft and questioning his toughness, and LeBron was doing it in comments to the media.
I don’t know whether Irving should have played through injury or whether LeBron James was treating him unfairly. I’m not sure LeBron knew. How certain can you be of someone else’s pain? I’d give the benefit of the doubt to the injured player.
The Cavaliers beat the Celtics, Bulls and Hawks to advance to the NBA Finals (where Irving broke his kneecap in Game 1 – an injury that sidelined him months). Winning cures most ills, and LeBron and Irving partnered two more years, winning two more conference titles and an NBA title.
But it’s easy to see this episode as part of a larger disconnect between the two, which culminated in Irving’s trade request last summer.
Really, the more we learn about the LeBron-Irving relationship, it’s a wonder they lasted together as long as they did.