Northern Wyoming Daily News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Alex Kuhn
Sports Editor 

Hear me out...The tricky side of empowerment


July 29, 2017

There’s nothing like empowering someone in the workforce, having them realize their self-worth, watching their confidence grow as they become more and more valuable to the operation. This process only makes the group stronger and any team goals that much easier to obtain.

Empowerment in the workforce shows those individuals how important they are to the process. So that one day, when the time comes, they can have the confidence to demand a trade to get out of town.

Wait, what the hell?

That’s what LeBron James had to be saying when he heard of his guard/teammate Kyrie Irving was asking to be traded in late June.

There’s no denying the impact LeBron has had on the NBA for player movement. He’s empowered a lot of players to find the right fit for them and shown them that loyalty to a franchise has always been a one-way street when the owners, GMs and, sometimes, coaches don’t believe in it.

Franchises will use the “What about the fans?” card, saying it’s a disservice to the fan base when a superstar wants to leave or ask for a trade. It’s the equivalent to “What about the kids?,” which is basically an emotional guilt-trip when people run out of logical arguments.

Just like the rest of us normal folk, professional athletes are free to leave or stay in their current work situation without scrutiny. They’re not elected public officials that have to adhere to a set of rules or living in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. (In terms of unintentional comedy, still the best official country name.) They are private citizens who have the right to find the best scenario for them and their families.

On the flipside of all this empowerment LeBron brought, it was bound to happen that one of his teammates would eventually want a change of scenery. Because even before the start of the Finals it was whispered that LeBron would be considering a move to L.A. next season.

The whispers grew louder after the Finals and now it’s common knowledge that LeBron will be a Laker, possibly a Clipper, next season. So why stick around if LeBron is leaving next season?

If you’re Kyrie and you’ve seen (been a part) of the aftermath of the teams LeBron left behind, (Cleveland, the first time, and Miami, neither of the two making the playoffs without LeBron) leaving before that happens seems like the smart thing to do. Especially, when you have more leverage now than you would in a year’s time.

Honestly, I was a bit shocked when I read that Kyrie wanted a trade. I thought it was going to be Kevin Love demanding a trade, as he is the constant scapegoat and target of LeBron’s passive-aggressive ire.

After the Cavs Finals loss I suggested they move on from Kyrie and his trade demand really plays in their favor. He’s a top three scorer in the league but outside that he doesn’t bring much else to the table. If they can bring in a playmaking guard, like a Mike Conley or Kemba Walker, they’ll be better for it.

As for what’s best for Kyrie, staying in Cleveland is his best option. If Kyrie is your best player you’re going to struggle making the playoffs and if he’s the second best player you’re a contender. But if he is on the move, the Spurs would be an interesting landing spot to see how he would mesh with Kahwi and Pop, and buy into the Spurs Way.

What happens now, is really anyone’s guess. If the Cavs can free up some cap space and upgrade in areas they need, i.e. playmaker, rim protector, Kyrie will get his wish. Outside of that I can’t see the Cavs taking a pennies-on-the-dollar trade like the Bulls and Pacers did. And Kyrie will have to stew until something comes along.

I get why LeBron would be upset, if you believe the reports, which I absolutely do, Kyrie mentioning him as the reason for wanting to leave Cleveland, is what irritated him. I also believe LeBron’s camp is responsible for leaking that Kyrie was seeking a trade last Friday. Direct confrontation is not in LeBron’s nature as shown in his long history of passive-aggressive comments and/or tweets.

Before “The Decision” this doesn’t happen and Kyrie would have to stay quietly miserable in Cleveland. But this is LeBron’s making, he led everyone down this empowerment road. For better, he changed the NBA forever, and for worse, it may lead to some not wanting to be his teammate anymore. He can’t be too upset when a teammate wants to take control of their fate.


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