Kyrie Irving made an interesting admission at USA basketball camp, Matt Moore of CBS Sports reports. That admission was that Irving really had not been a leader in the first years in the league. For anyone that followed the Cleveland Cavs that should not be surprising. His feud with shooting guard Dion Waiters was well known.
Irving pointed out that it is unrealistic to ask a 19 year old to lead as some expected him to do from the moment he walked in the door. Irving was doubly handicapped by the lack of veteran locker room presence in his early years with the Cavs.
Judging Irving too harshly for not be being a leader is something that we should avoid. Some talents are best taking care of themselves. If asked to take care of others they may uncomfortable, even if they are the best player. Julius Peppers was like this when he played for the Panthers. Expectations that he would lead were part of the cocktail that led him to sign with the Chicago Bears.
Irving does not have to worry about that added pressure now. Cleveland will be LeBron’s team from the moment King James walks on the training camp floor. If certain things don’t happen during games, it will be James who sorts it out. It will be James in front of the media. Irving will finally get the time he needed to grow up. Now the only team he needs to be captain of is Team Coco.
This issue will be even further resolved when the Cavs bring in Shawn Marion and Kevin Love as they are expected to do in about five days. Kevin Love will become the second biggest name on the team and take away media pressure. Marion and Mike Miller will offer veteran presence that the Cavs have not had recently.
Hopefully Irving will take this opportunity to learn from James and Company. He may never be the leader that the Cavs once needed him to be, but he could be a lot more ready when he has to step up again.
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