Opinion: If Irving leaves, remember the good times

Drew Taylor

In what might be the most surprising trade in sports since P.K. Subban was traded for Shea Weber (fellow NHL fans know what I mean), Kyrie Irving — for a brief moment, at least — was traded from the Cavaliers in exchange for Boston Celtics star Isaiah Thomas, the team that viewed him as the successor to Lebron James when they drafted him in 2011.

That trade has since been rendered voidable after concerns arose in regards to Thomas’ hip.

If the trade did go through (which could be pending on additional assets from the Celtics), it would not shock many. Irving’s trade demand from July, reportedly due to his desire to escape Lebron James’ shadow, left many expecting the former Duke standout to be moved this summer.

Yet, the move to the Celtics shocked fans because of where Irving was traded to.

The Celtics, seen as potentially the Cavaliers’ only competition in the Eastern Conference, sent Thomas, along with Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and a first-round draft pick, for Irving.

Should the trade go through, the Celtics will be rewarded with a great role model on and off the court. On the other hand, Cavs fans lambasting Irving as a “selfish” player should instead fondly remember his illustrious, albeit short, time in Cleveland.

His six seasons in a Cavalier uniform were a success, and the fanbase should embrace that. A list of Irving’s accomplishments include an NBA title, a Rookie of the Year award, four All-Star Game appearances (one of which he won the game MVP for) and an NBA Finals-clinching, three-point shot during game 7 against the Golden State Warriors two years ago.

On top of the playoff runs, the accolades and the flashy highlights, Irving embraced a city whose athletes tend to want to immediately leave town.

He engages in charity work, donating his time and resources to UNICEF, as well as the Ohio chapter of Best Buddies International, a charity that aids people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

He has been respectful to the media that covers the Cavaliers, both locally and nationally. Irving also showed support to the other sports teams in Cleveland, illustrated by his constant attendance to Indians games.

The fanbase seems to be taking it as well as it should be; there are no viral YouTube videos of fans burning his jersey or commonly-shared Facebook posts calling him a traitor.

This is a sharp contrast to the last time a Cavalier superstar left the team. However, I believe most of the fanbase has learned from those mistakes and agree with my view that Kyrie has given the team and the city more than they could have asked for.

The first game of the upcoming Cavs season is a home game against Irving’s Celtics. Hopefully, when his name is announced, the fans cheer as loud as they can.

In time, perhaps Irving’s jersey will be immortalized and hung from the rafters to remember a special player’s time in Cleveland.

He deserves it.

Drew Taylor is a columnist, contact him at [email protected].