Report: NBA executive thinks perhaps one of LeBron’s biggest feats was keeping Kyrie on track when they were Cavs teammates

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Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Former Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James has recorded many accomplishments throughout his 21 seasons in the NBA. However, one NBA executive believes perhaps one of his greatest achievements was getting former teammate Kyrie Irving to focus on basketball and play at a very high level when they were a duo.

“It’s doubtful Irving will admit it, but he was at his best in his three years with James,” wrote Terry Pluto of “One executive told me that perhaps one of the greatest achievements of James’ career was keeping Irving focused and playing superb basketball in those three seasons.

Irving’s upcoming return to Cleveland on Tuesday has allowed some pundits to recall the guard’s Cavs stint, which lasted six seasons.

He joined the team after it brought him in with the No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft. It didn’t take long for him to showcase his potential as one of the league’s brightest young stars.

The season after he won the Rookie of the Year award, Irving secured his first All-Star berth. He made a second consecutive trip to the midseason exhibition in 2014, where he took home the All-Star Game MVP honors.

While he was likely ready to continue leading the Cavs as their top player, Irving may have gotten a huge surprise in the 2014 offseason when James decided to go home to Cleveland after a four-season stay with the Miami Heat.

But even with the prodigal son taking his place in the Cavs’ pecking order, Irving remained very productive. The difference was that he was finally on a contending squad.

In the 2015-16 season, the Duke University product proved to be a perfect No. 2 option behind James, as he recorded 25.2 points per game in the playoffs. He upped his play in the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors, scoring 27.1 points per contest and hitting perhaps the biggest shot in franchise history in Game 7 of the series.

The 2016-17 campaign saw Irving register what were career-highs at the time for points per game in the regular season and the playoffs. Unfortunately, Cleveland couldn’t complete its repeat attempt against Golden State.

Wanting to become more of a squad’s focal point instead of playing under James’ shadow, Irving requested a trade in the 2017 offseason. He was sent to the Boston Celtics, where he had a rocky stint highlighted by some reported tensions in the locker room.

He reneged on his earlier commitment of re-signing with the Celtics by going to the Brooklyn Nets in 2019. He had some of his best scoring seasons playing in a Nets uniform, but some off-the-court issues marred his time with the organization.

Currently, Irving is playing for the Dallas Mavericks, where he has seemingly avoided controversy and thrived playing second fiddle to Luka Doncic, which is somewhat reminiscent of when James unlocked Irving’s potential during their time together in Cleveland.

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Orel is a freelance writer who is passionate about the NBA. He has followed the league since the late '90s and found increased interest in it in 2003 – when an 18-year-old prodigy from Akron, Ohio took the league by storm.