The Cleveland Cavaliers held first place in the NBA’s Eastern Conference for all but a virtual minute of last season. The Washington Wizards spent their excellent campaign generally as a fourth-place-ish stalker. But Wizards point guard John Wall was in the MVP conversation along Isaiah Thomas, point guard with that other Eastern Conference stalker Boston. Which point guard, you ask, playing for a top NBA Eastern Conference team wasn’t in the MVP conversation? Even though he’d been to three straight NBA Finals? That would be Kyrie Irving. Being John Wall is what Irving now wants. It’s the easiest analogy there is to explain why Irving requested a trade from the Cavs.
Wall signed his bank-breaking 4-year $170 million deal cementing himself as the “face of the franchise” for the foreseeable future. In that Irving saw what he wants, too. He wants exactly that — face of the franchise status. Not so much the money part either — he wants to be John Wall of an NBA franchise the way John Wall is the John Wall of the Wizards. Top dog. Main option. Face of the franchise. Call it what you will. Thing is, Wall has never played in three straight NBA Finals — or even one. Kevin Durant was the face of the OKC Thunder, and he thought he’d be better off in a Golden State collage. That left Russell Westbrook as the OKC face: he was awesome but the Finals weren’t in the picture. “Careful what you wish for” is one way to approach Irving’s desire to be the main man. The other way is to say go ahead and try it. After all, Kyrie Irving is as good a basketball player as they come.