James spoke about the comments while appearing as a guest on the Road Trippin’ podcast with Richard Jefferson, Channing Frye and Allie Clifton.
“I was a little like, ‘Damn.’ Once I got the whole transcript, I was like, ‘Damn,'” James said, according ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “I wasn’t like, ‘Oh, you trippin’. I’ve hit game-winning shots my whole life.’ I was not like that. I was like, ‘Damn.’ Because … I played with Kyrie for three seasons [with the Cleveland Cavaliers]. The whole time when I was there, I only wanted to see him be a MVP of our league. I only cared about his success. And it just didn’t align. It just didn’t align. And we were able to win a championship. That’s the craziest thing. We were still able to win a championship, and we could never align. But I only cared about his well-being, both on and off the floor.
“And it kind of hurt me a little bit.”
“One thing I’ve always been comfortable with, I felt like I was the best option on every team I played for down the stretch,” Irving said on the podcast. “This is the first time in my career I’ve looked down and be like, ‘That motherf—er can make that shot too.’ And he’ll probably do it a lot easier.
“It’s not so much deferring, because in past situations where I didn’t take the last shot, I felt guilty. I want this game-winning shot, but also, you want to trust your teammates. Not that I didn’t trust my teammates, but I felt like I was the best option.”
“It’s always been something that, when I’ve been in the Finals, that comes out to try to distract me from my mission. So I was already ready for it … I’ve always been prepared to know that there’s going to be something said or done to try to knock me off of my mission,” James said. “When I was seeing that and I read it, and then I got the full transcript and I heard it, I was like, ‘Man, f—.’ I was like, ‘Are you f—ing kidding me?’ … I was like, ‘God damn.'”
“Ky is one of the most talented players I’ve ever played with in my life. The kid — I don’t even want to call him ‘kid.’ He’s not a kid anymore, but back then, he was. He was a young kid still growing into his own, and the s— that he was capable of on the floor I had never seen before,” James said. “I had so much confidence in him. I actually told Kyrie, I told him at one point when we were playing together that if you were not a league MVP someday, then you were selling yourself short. Because that’s how much I believed in him.
“And it was part of the reason why I came back home. Besides the unfinished business, I came back home because I saw the talent in him.”