Donovan Mitchell speaks on Kyrie Irving deserving ultimate honor with Cavs franchise

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Christopher Creveling-USA TODAY Sports

Current Cleveland Cavaliers star Donovan Mitchell has a strong opinion about whether the franchise should retire the jersey number of controversial former champion Kyrie Irving.

“He should have his jersey retired for sure,” Mitchell said. “Being able to do what he did at the highest level, year after year, to go from not winning to being able to do that and have that impact I think is something that was truly remarkable. Obviously, what he has done in the playoffs in his career and in Cleveland, where he brought the city a championship, I feel like him, K-Love (Kevin Love) and Bron (LeBron James) should all have their jerseys retired. I think he should definitely have it retired. Only championship in team history and he was a huge part of that. I think that’s something that should never go overlooked.”

The current Dallas Mavericks guard has complicated relationships all around the league, perhaps nowhere more than in Cleveland. Irving helped the Cavs win their only NBA championship in 2016 but made a trade request that ultimately severed his ties with the franchise and fan base the next year.

Mitchell could find himself in the same boat as Irving if he eventually moves on from the Cavs someday, either as a free agent or via his own trade request. And at this point, he would do so without a championship to his name. The 27-year-old’s long-term future with the organization is a constant topic of conversation and concern, so perhaps he sympathizes with Irving in a way others may not.

A two-time All-Star with the Cavs, Mitchell claims he is a lifelong fan of the team and has closely followed Irving thanks to their shared background in the New York area. Mitchell also is aware of Irving’s status in the organization’s history and where he ultimately might fit when measured against him.

“I wouldn’t say I’m looking at the records per se but everything he’s able to accomplish, you want to go out and compete with that,” Mitchell said. “I have no doubt he feels the same way. Us being from the same area and I’ve watched him since I was growing up so definitely want to go out there and give it the best shot every time. As far as the records go, the records don’t mean anything without a ring. I could break every record but if we don’t have a championship, he was able to accomplish that. The goal is to bring a championship to this city. That’s the focus. Anything we can do to win a championship. That’s the primary focus.”

They are set to oppose each other with the Cavs set to host the Mavericks on Tuesday, and Irving’s return to Cleveland has stirred up thoughts about his legacy and how the team may someday honor him. Since leaving prior to the 2017-18 season, he has made stops with the Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets and Mavericks that have resulted in more drama than championships.

The Cavs also haven’t reached the heights they were at with Irving on hand and James around to keep his teammate on track.

To Mitchell’s credit, he has not created a stir in the manner Irving did despite his uncertain future. He seems totally committed to Cleveland’s attempt to win a championship and recently expressed how happy is with his situation right now.

Entering the game Tuesday, the Cavs have won 19 of their past 23 games to climb into second place in the Eastern Conference. They had lost three of their past four before defeating the Washington Wizards on Sunday.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. One of his favorite sports memories is the Cavaliers-Nets playoff series from 1993.