LeBron: Cavs trading Kyrie was 'beginning of the end'
Jesse D. Garrabrant / National Basketball Association / Getty

LeBron James has shed light on how Kyrie Irving's trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2017 sealed the deal for his own departure a year later.

"Everyone knows that when Kyrie got traded it was the beginning of the end for everything," James told The Athletic's Joe Vardon. "It's not a secret."

Irving requested a trade from the Cavs in the summer of 2017. James reportedly encouraged management not to heed the demand because Irving was still under contract for at least two more seasons.

James discovered Irving had been traded to the Boston Celtics just minutes after speaking with general manager Koby Altman, according to Vardon. James doesn't blame Altman but believes the rookie GM was overruled by owner Dan Gilbert.

"You realize at that point in time, take nothing from Koby ... but at that point in time, you realize that Koby's not the only one running the team," James said.

At the time, Altman had just replaced David Griffin, who oversaw Cleveland's first and only NBA championship in 2016. Griffin departed after Gilbert declined to give him a contract extension, enforcing a belief around the league that the billionaire owner exercised complete power over all team matters.

"That's why Griff was let go, pretty much," James said.

LeBron returns to Cleveland for the first time as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday, and he's confident it will be a different atmosphere from the angry one he encountered in 2010 after decamping for the Miami Heat.

"S---, it better not be," he said. "It doesn’t matter if it's negative, because the only thing that matters is what I gave to the city, what I gave to that community, what I’m still giving to that community," James said.

"It doesn't matter. At the end of the day, they have one obligation and that's to cheer for their team. And I'm not on the team. And personally, I’m in a whole different space than I was in 2010, so s--- doesn't bother me."

LeBron: Cavs trading Kyrie was 'beginning of the end'
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