NBA Rundown Week 14: Kyrie Irving apologises to LeBron James; Joel Embiid-Russell Westbrook reignite feud and more
Here are the bits and bobs from another entertaining week in the NBA.
Kyrie Irving said he had called former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate LeBron James to apologise to him for his behavior when they were at the Cavs.
The Russell Westbrook-Joel Embiid tiff has been reignited after a particularly fractious game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Philadelphia 76ers.
DeMarcus Cousins did not look like a man who had spent 357 days out due to an Achilles tendon injury, scoring 14 points, besides racking up six rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block on the night.
Reading between the lines
Do you like conspiracy theories? Well, who doesn’t? So here’s one that’s dividing opinion in the NBA: Kyrie Irving fancies a stint with LeBron James!
What are we basing this on?
To give you a little bit of context into what fanned this fire, Irving told the media earlier this week that he had called former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate James after the Boston Celtics’ 105–103 defeat against the Orlando Magic to apologise to him for his behavior when they were at the Cavs.
“It was a big deal for me because I had to call ’Bron and tell him I apologise for being that young player that wanted to have everything at his fingertips and I wanted everything to be at my threshold. I wanted to be the guy that led us to change. I wanted to be the leader. I wanted to be all that. And the responsibility of being the best player in the world and leading a team is something that's not meant for many people. ’Bron was one of those guys that came to Cleveland and tried to really show us what it's like to win a championship. And it was hard for him. Sometimes getting the most out of a group isn't the easiest thing in the world,” Irving told reporters on being asked about the hurdles he faced as a leader in the young Celtics outfit, after a bruising defeat to the Toronto Raptors.
What do you think LeBron said to Kyrie Irving, who called Bron and apologized for "being that young player that wanted everything at his fingertips."
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) January 17, 2019
Reports state that Irving wanted so desperately to get away from the enormous shadow James was casting at the Cavs, that he demanded to be traded in the 2017 off-season. According to certain reports, he even said that he would miss the regular season to recuperate from surgery on his knee, should the Cavaliers not accept his demand.
Now, if wild conspiracy theories are to be believed, Irving’s apology only serves to clear the decks for a reunion with the man who he won the 2016 NBA Championship with. This makes the already exciting free agency, due after the season wraps up, even more exciting.
DeMarcus Cousins doesn’t want your love!
29 teams let out a collective groan when it was revealed that DeMarcus Cousins would join the Golden State Warriors at the start of this season.
The Warriors, who have won three NBA Championships in the last four seasons, were already formidable enough without adding another reigning All-Star to their ranks.
Just how devastating the Dubs can be with Cousins in the side became apparent in the course of a 15-minute barnstorming appearance against the LA Clippers at the Staples Centre.
Cousins did not look like a man who had spent 357 days out due to an Achilles tendon injury, scoring 14 points, besides racking up six rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block on the night. The Warriors’ line-up ― the first time an NBA team had fielded five reigning All-Stars on the court at the same time since the Celtics in the 1975-76 season ― blew a hole through the Clippers 112-94 victory.
Cousins’ night though ended after he fouled out, but he did walk off the court to a standing ovation from the Warriors fans in the arena.
Despite the unceremonious ouster, Cousins was pleased by the return, saying: “I felt like a kid on Christmas. It's been a long journey. This is probably one of the best days of my life.”
On being asked about the love from the fans, however, Cousins had this to say:
DeMarcus Cousins on being the center of attention tonight: “Fakest love I’ve ever seen in my life...I don’t know how Steph and KD do it.” pic.twitter.com/1rrmAt3cys
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) January 19, 2019
Joel Embiid vs Russell Westbrook, Part II
In case you did not hear about it on social media, the Russell Westbrook-Joel Embiid tiff has been reignited after a particularly fractious game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Philadelphia 76ers.
Before we get into the incident which led to the tiff re-starting, let’s look at the complicated history between the duo.
16 December 2017. Joel Embiid gives Steven Adams a send-off after the Thunder player fouled out.
Game of the year. Embiid fouls out Steven Adams, waves bye to him ?? pic.twitter.com/J5SlgmDKBy
— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) December 16, 2017
The wave clearly angered Westbrook, who returned the favour after the game, in which they sealed a victory.
Russell Westbrook makes sure to wave goodbye to Joel Embiid after the game. pic.twitter.com/yAb97UQLW6
— Up The Thunder (@UpTheThunder) December 16, 2017
On being asked what the wave meant, he said: “I was telling him to ‘Go home.’ He was talking mess to Steve-O. Fouled out, waving to the crowd which was unnecessary. Waving to Steve-O bye. Now it’s time for him to go home (sic).”
The last word on the night, however, went to Embiid.
“[Russell Westbrook] shot like 10-for-33. I wish I would’ve shot 33 times.” pic.twitter.com/V3JdyiyRFm
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 16, 2017
Then things seemed to have quietened down a bit, before this happened on Saturday:
Russ was heated after this hard foul from Embiid ?? pic.twitter.com/DoveCV4Lk6
— ESPN (@espn) January 19, 2019
The incident particularly riled up Westbrook, who had some strong words to say to journalists about the Embiid situation.
Russell Westbrook on the foul from Joel Embiid, and then asked if they are “cool.” (Warning: language): pic.twitter.com/7i0ahyEFTH
— Royce Young (@royceyoung) January 20, 2019
Of course, Embiid refused to take the blame for the incident and claimed that it was an innocuous attempt at defending.
A vaccination mandate by New York City means Irving may not play in home games unless he receives the injection.
It's easy to see why the Lakers would be a fashionable pick to emerge as the Western Conference representative in the NBA Finals this season.
The bottom line of the holdout may very well be about the bottom line; the more games and practices Simmons misses, the more money he loses.