Larry Sanders says that the Cavaliers had many internal struggles in the 2016-17 NBA season and thought LeBron James would leave.
LeBron James made good on his promise to bring a championship home to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2016 NBA Finals after coming back from down 3-1 against the 73-9 Golden State Warriors. With the Warriors adding Kevin Durant to their mix and the Cavs keeping their championship core intact, the 2017 Finals were shaping up to be yet another installment in the Cavs-Warriors saga.
It did in fact play out as predicted as having the 2nd seed out East behind the Toronto Raptors didn’t matter to LeBron James and the Cavs as they trampled their way into the Finals. However, the KD and Curry led Warriors would take the series in merely 5 games, marking the beginning of the Cavs downfall.
Despite the seemingly perfect chemistry between the players on that Cleveland Cavaliers roster, a former teammate of LeBron’s highlights the internal turmoil that plagued that locker room throughout the entirety of the 16-17 season.
LeBron James and Kyrie Irving’s Cavs suffered through internal locker room conflicts.
Larry Sanders, though having played merely 5 games in a Cavaliers uniform, quickly noticed the distorted nature of this 2016-17 Cleveland team; a massive shift from the season prior.
“The team had many issues. There were a lot of internal issues. We didn’t know if LeBron James and Kyrie Irving were leaving. They had the scuffle between LeBron and Tristan Thompson. There was a lot of stuff going on internally.”
“I remember being in the midst of it and I’m like the seventh or eighth project they have. I don’t think they knew what to do with anybody.”
Given what Sanders has laid out, it’s no surprise that Kyrie Irving wanted out. Rumors claim that he even threatened the front office with undergoing season ending shoulder surgery if he wasn’t traded away from the Cavaliers. Not to mention the fact that he was tired of playing in LeBron James’s shadow.
The Cleveland Cavaliers would fight tooth and nail the next season to claw their way back into the NBA Finals but were easily swept by the Golden State Warriors, a loss that would result in the end of LeBron James’s tyrannical reign over the Eastern Conference as he departed to the Los Angeles Lakers out West.