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LeBron James says Kyrie Irving’s comments implying lack of faith in late-game abilities ‘hurt me a little bit’

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Months ago, LeBron James bit his tongue when Kyrie Irving‘s comments on Kevin Durant‘s podcast seemed to disparage the Los Angeles Lakers star’s late-game abilities. Now, James has opened up about his former teammate’s take on a podcast appearance of his own.

James, appearing as a guest on the Road Trippin’ podcast with Richard Jefferson, Channing Frye and Allie Clifton, addressed Irving’s comments — in which Irving praised Durant as the first teammate he could trust as much as he trusts himself to take the last shot of the game — in an episode that aired Monday on Spectrum SportsNet.

“I was a little like, ‘Damn.’ Once I got the whole transcript, I was like, ‘Damn,'” James said, adding that he made sure to read Irving’s full comments before reacting to them. “I wasn’t like, ‘Oh, you trippin’. I’ve hit game-winning shots my whole life.’ I was not like that. I was like, ‘Damn.’ Because … I played with Kyrie for three seasons [with the Cleveland Cavaliers]. The whole time when I was there, I only wanted to see him be a MVP of our league. I only cared about his success. And it just didn’t align. It just didn’t align. And we were able to win a championship. That’s the craziest thing. We were still able to win a championship, and we could never align. But I only cared about his well-being, both on and off the floor.

“And it kind of hurt me a little bit.”

The Brooklyn Nets guard’s comments, which were released on the debut episode of Durant’s podcast, “The Etcs,” just days before James and the Lakers played the Miami Heat in Game 2 of the NBA Finals in October, omitted James’ capabilities in clutch time as Irving reflected on his basketball career.

“One thing I’ve always been comfortable with, I felt like I was the best option on every team I played for down the stretch,” Irving said on the podcast. “This is the first time in my career I’ve looked down and be like, ‘That motherf—er can make that shot too.’ And he’ll probably do it a lot easier.

“It’s not so much deferring, because in past situations where I didn’t take the last shot, I felt guilty. I want this game-winning shot, but also, you want to trust your teammates. Not that I didn’t trust my teammates, but I felt like I was the best option.”

Irving and James played together from 2014 to 2017, making it to three straight Finals and winning it all in 2016. They became the first pair of teammates to each score 40 points in a Finals game as they led the Cavs back from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the Golden State Warriors.

James said the timing of Irving’s comments was as much of a disappointment as their content.