Kyrie Irving Is The Anti-Durant. So Why Are Sports Pundits Mad? – Forbes

Rob Tornoe

Rob Tornoe/Cartoon of the Day

We can’t seem to make up our minds how we want NBA superstars to act.

When Kevin Durant decided to split from Oklahoma City to join Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, talking heads all over sports media ripped the superstar for taking the easy way out. They blasted him as a coward, dubbed him a quitter and called him out for jumping on the bandwagon.

Never mind that Durant decided to put his ego aside in order to win a championship (an NBA Finals MVP), something we always complain is rare in the big money world of professional sports. Durant even took less money to stick with the Warriors, an almost unheard of phenomenon in the NBA or any other league.

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Now Kyrie Irving has positioned himself as the anti-Durant. No longer satisfied to share the court with the NBA’s biggest superstar, LeBron James, Kyrie has requested a trade so he can leave Cleveland and be the sole star for a different team. While Durant took the “easy” road, Irving wants to make it harder on himself to achieve the success he’s enjoyed the past three seasons, which includes a championship and three trips to the NBA Finals.

So how was Irving’s request greeted in the basketball world? With near universal admonishment, as pundits and fans called out his selfishness for abandoning James and a Cavs team that seems well positioned to coast through the Eastern Conference yet again next season.

On the face of it, the move doesn’t seem to make much sense. Irving is already a superstar, with jersey sales rivaling two-time MVP Stephen Curry and more shoes than any player not named LeBron James. He’s already a focal point of the Cav’s offense, where he attempted more shots and held the ball longer than James did last season. In fact, James passed the ball to HIM at the end of Game 3 of the Finals while the Cavaliers trailed by a single bucket.

Unfortunately, most of the criticism seems to be centered around his enormous ego and his desire, as he told ESPN, to be the center of a franchise like John Wall and Damian Lillard. Ironically, if James leaves after next season, Kyrie could have the Cavs (and a team built to compliment LeBron) all to himself.

So if pundits were bent out of shape over Durant leaving his ego behind to win a championship, shouldn’t they be thrilled that Kyrie is willing to bypass a practically guaranteed spot in next year’s NBA Finals in order to stake out a larger challenge for himself? – Rob Tornoe

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