Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Et tu, Kyrie Irving?

Et tu, Kyrie?
by rick olivares

It’s one thing for example for a Kevin Durant to leave his team (the Oklahoma City Thunder) to a championship contender (Golden State Warriors) and in the process break up a partnership (Russell Westbrook) that was such a great NBA tandem.

It’s another to see one (Kyrie Irving) leave the Cleveland cavaliers because he wants to breakout of a teammate’s (LeBron James) shadow.

The sudden departure of Kyrie Irving from the Cavaliers is stunning and shocking. It blindsided virtually everyone. An NBA equivalent to a “Et tu, Brutus” moment sans the daggers. That is until those dagger of a jumpshot or dunk come game time.

I am not sure I will fault Kyrie. It is his right after all. But why leave a certified contender? It’s all about more shots and control; an opportunity to be… The Man. And in Boston (yes, I know there is a possibility that the trade will implode following Isaiah Thomas’ medical with Cleveland that has the Cavs brass worried), he has that.

We’ve seen this through the years.

Horace Grant left a strong Chicago team in the early 1990s because he didn’t like playing third fiddle or even fourth after the arrival of Toni Kukoc) in 1994. He went to the then up-and-coming Orlando Magic who went to the finals in his first year (they got swept by the Houston Rockets) and the Eastern finals the next (where they were swept away by the Chicago Bulls). That transfer of addresses was weird because if he thought he was getting more shots in a team that had a young Shaquille O’Neal, Penny Hardaway, Nick Anderson, and Dennis Scott then he was sadly mistaken. As a result, Grant missed out on the Bulls’ next wave of three championships.

In Los Angeles, there wasn’t room big enough for Kobe Bryant and O’Neal (who left Orlando in 1996). The two won a three-peat together but feuded publicly. It culminated in an ugly finals loss to Detroit despite being the prohibitive favorite. Both won titles after that – Bryant two more in LA while O’Neal won a fourth ring with Miami.

These are but two examples.

When I said I wasn’t sure how to feel about Kyrie’s forcing a trade, I mean it. It is the anti-thesis of LeBron James and Chris Bosh joining Dwyane Wade in Miami.

It is the antithesis of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen going to Boston to join forces with Paul Pierce.

It is good too because some guys want to do it the old school way and built a champion side with patience and built around certain players. Definitely not the pre-packaged title teams of Miami, Boston, and perhaps to a degree, Golden State of the past season.

Was Irving looking to reprise Charles Barkley who demanded a trade after the 1991-92 NBA season (ending the Bump and Thump partnership with Rick Mahorn that brought excitement back to Philly)? Barkley went to Phoenix (after a trade to the Lakers was scuttled) and he was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player that year after leading Phoenix to the best record that year including a finals berth versus the Bulls of whom they lost to).

In a way off tangent, it had me thinking of former Cavs forward-center Anderson Varejao who was a valuable player for the Cavs but was oft injured. On October 31, 2014, the Brazilian signed a multi-contract extension to say with the Cavs. Yet two seasons later, he was traded to Portland in a move he didn’t see coming. He was waived by the Blazers but latched on to the Warriors. His goal of winning a championship was unfulfilled after the Warriors lost to Cleveland in the finals of two years ago. So much for loyalty and poor fortune.

The player who wanted to stay got dumped. The player the organization wants to stay opted out.

Whatever the reason for Irving, change is good too. Besides, it’s good to see more drama for the league when Boston plays Cleveland in the season. That’s a great story in addition to the rivalry between Cleveland and Golden State. Irving goes to rival and up-and-coming Boston. Fireworks. The league sure needs it. Nothing like some bad blood in this G (for general audiences)-league that the league espouses. Sorry, am old school that wait and kind of fall asleep in an otherwise staid and long regular season save for the rivalry matches.

Besides, Irving learned from the master himself when he took his talents to South Beach.

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