The inability for some to fathom that Kyrie Irving reportedly wants to be traded to the Knicks is a model for a never ending misconception.
After it appeared as if the offseason was beginning to die down, the NBA world was thrown the biggest grenade possible — in the name of Kyrie Irving.
Last Friday, news broke that Irving had requested a trade away from the Cleveland Cavaliers. Looking to get out of LeBron James‘ shadow, Irving wants to go somewhere where he can be “the man,” potentially on a winning team. But the list of teams he’s said to be interested in being dealt to sends mixed signals.
With the San Antonio Spurs, Minnesota Timberwolves, Miami Heat, and New York Knicks being his four desired destinations, some are questioning what Irving’s motor in getting himself out of Cleveland truly is.
If he goes to the Spurs, he would be playing second-fiddle, yet again, but in this case to Kawhi Leonard.
If he goes to the Timberwolves, he joins an unproven Minnesota team, where chances are he has little to no hope of knocking off the Golden State Warriors.
If he goes to the Heat, he joins a team that missed the playoffs last season, and even with his presence, will be unable to defeat the Boston Celtics or even Washington Wizards in a seven game series.
If he goes to the Knicks, he would pair up with budding star Kristaps Porzingis, but wouldn’t be able to knock off a well-rounded unit like Boston, Washington, or even the Cavaliers — barring a remarkable fire sale.
All four of Irving’s preferred destinations prevent him from either: a) being the “go-to” man or b) contending for a championship.
What’s even more astonishing from this Irving drama is that his preferred destination is, in fact, the Knicks. Yes, the playoff deprived, chaotic Knicks are said to be his top landing spot, according to Pablo Torre — who revealed this news on ESPN’s First Take Thursday morning.
— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) July 27, 2017
The fact that Irving is said to be wanting to “come home” or even consider the Knicks is a perfect model for a reoccurring misconception — that being the happiness and comfort level of players.
When it comes to assessing decisions that players make in regards to choosing the team which they play for, the instant thought process among NBA minds is how do they fit in with this particular team or will the player going to that team put him in a position to compete for an NBA championship.
Whether a player will be comfortable and happy in the environment or city they will be living in, is an afterthought. Do they want to live in a particular city? Do they want to be with their family?
In Irving’s case, he reportedly intends to be with his family, which leads him to Madison Square Garden. The quick thinking when people hear that a star like Irving wants to play for a non-contending team is “LOL” or “they don’t care about winning.” This is where the misconception presents itself.
Irving is on a Cavaliers team that would likely make it back to the NBA Finals if their core stayed together, but that appears unlikely at this point. So if he were to leave, it would only make sense for him to go play for another contender, right?
Irving has won an NBA title. He’s played alongside one of the greatest players the NBA has ever seen and has established himself as one of the best point guards the game has to offer. But that doesn’t mean he’s obligated to do what the contrary opinion thinks he should do.
The Knicks are by no means a championship contender, nor will they be anytime soon, even if they have Irving. But why should that stop him from wanting to go there?
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As crazy as it may be to fathom, professional athletes have lives themselves, and when they’re looking for a place to call home, they want to be happy and comfortable in the environment which they’re going to be in — just like you.
If Irving goes to another team to be both a “go-to” option and contend, then he’d without a doubt be under less scrutiny. But since he appears to want to join the Knicks, no one can understand his thought process.
If Irving ultimately ends up in New York, he’ll be the team’s best player from the get-go, but he won’t be in a situation to contend — not immediately, at least.
What Irving will have if he comes to the Big Apple is a sense of comfort and happiness.
He may never win a title, but is it possible that Irving just salivates at the opportunity to play under the bright lights of New York, while simultaneously being close to his family?
Irving’s desire to move on from Cleveland to a completely polar opposite situation on Broadway is a scenario that applies to not just the NBA, but any other sport, whether that be baseball, football, or hockey. No player is obligated or should feel forced to join a particular team, even if they’re potentially a great fit in that team’s system.
Athletes such as Irving have to take into account being happy and comfortable in the city/environment they’re living in, but regardless, the majority of people always view how a player fits in with a team as being the crucial and deciding factor — a never ending misconception in sports.