Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (R) said he didn't speak to LeBron James at the time of his trade request from the Cleveland Cavaliers. File Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI | License Photo
May 17 (UPI) -- Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving says he would have won more championships with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers if he had the "same maturity line" and understanding of himself he does now.
Irving spoke about his 2017 trade from the Cavaliers to the Boston Celtics for an episode of I AM ATHLETE, which went live Monday. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft spent his first six seasons with the Cavaliers.
He became teammates with James in 2014. The duo teamed up to appear in three-consecutive times in the NBA Finals. They overcame a 3-1 deficit to win the title in 2016 through a seven-game series with the Golden State Warriors.
James left the franchise the off-season after Irving's departure to join the Los Angeles Lakers.
Reports from various platforms surfaced amid the final years of the union between Irving and James that stated the duo's relationship soured and led to the split.
Irving admitted that he "isolated" himself at that time. He also said he wasn't connecting with some teammates after the championship run, which factored into the Cavaliers' loss to the Warriors in their last NBA Finals appearance.
"If I was in the same maturity line and understanding of who I am, and I look back, we definitely, definitely would've won more championships, because there would've been a better man-to-man understanding about what I'm going through," Irving said.
"I didn't know how to share my emotions. I didn't know how to do that. So instead of sharing, I isolated myself."
Irving, who was 24 when he asked for a trade from the Cavaliers, said he did not speak to James before the request and regrets not doing so.
"When I look back on what I was going through at that time, I wish I did, because it would've been a good understanding of what the future will hold for both of us and we know how much power we both had together," Irving said. "Me and him in the league together running Cleveland, and then being able to put a better team together every single year would've definitely been worth it."
Irving also spoke about his relationship with late Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his signature shoe and his journey with Islam.
The seven-time All-Star, who left the Celtics in 2019 for the Nets, tied his career-high with 27.4 points per game this season. He missed more than half the games this season due to his unvaccinated status and COVID-19 vaccine mandates in New York.
James and Irving reconnected since their split in Cleveland. On Monday night, James complemented Irving several times through a question-and-answer session he prompted on Twitter.
He called Irving one of the best shooters he ever played with and said the Nets guard would be one of his top choices if he chose someone to play with in a two-on-two game against Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippin.
Irving's contract features a $36.5 million player option for next season. He could opt out of that deal this summer and become a free agent.
St. Vincent-St. Mary High School senior LeBron James (L) drives around a Zanesvuille defender in Akron, Ohio, on February 14, 2003. James is expected to be the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft. A couple months later, the Cleveland Cavaliers coach was suspended
because James worked out with the team before he graduated from high school. Photo by Tom Cammett/UPI | License Photo