The Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State recently accomplished something that had never been done before: they met for the fourth straight year in the NBA Finals. Pretty amazing when you think about it. In the first of those four years, 2015, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving were sidelined for most of the Finals.
Miraculously — on the back of a Herculean performance from LeBron James — the Cavs won two games. According to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com, Kyrie Irving’s handling of his knee injury in that postseason deeply bothered LeBron. Because of the knee ailment, Kyrie missed two games in the Eastern Conference Finals (which the Cavs won, 4-0, over Atlanta).
“This annoyed LeBron and LeBron’s people to no end,” Vardon said during an appearance on 92.3 The Fan. “They were calling him soft and questioning his toughness, and LeBron was doing it in comments to the media.”
It’s impossible to know whether Kyrie was actually injured, but clearly he was in pain. Nonetheless, it appears LeBron thought he was being overdramatic.
Kyrie returned in Game 1 of the NBA Finals — and broke his kneecap. The former Duke star has dealt with knee ailments ever since. A promising 2017-18 season for Irving ended in March of this year, as he underwent a procedure to repair the fracture he suffered in those 2015 Finals. That procedure involved removing two screws from his patella.
Will Kyrie be back for the start of the 2018-19 season? It sure seems so. Celtics head coach Brad Stevens recently said Irving’s progress has been “encouraging.”
“I think the whole time, he’s been shooting toward an early-August return to real live-action,” Stevens said at Summer League in Las Vegas. “So, he should be well ahead by the time we start practice.”
This echoes the “mid-August” timetable Stevens gave to the media in late June. Kyrie is under contract for one more guaranteed season, then he’ll have a player option next summer.
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