At the beginning of this week, one report suggested that Kyrie's surprising trade request may have been motivated by differences between Irving's father and Lebron James. The balancing act of talent, ego and relationship in the NBA is tentative and has often seen questions left unanswered when players prematurely demand a move.
Regardless of the sport, formulating a winning team has rarely been as simple as getting a group of great players together and watching them win. It's about chemistry, on and off the court/field/pitch.
In the NBA, chemistry is crucial... most of the time. I say this as, according to Dennis Rodman, he never had a conversation with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen off the court during his three years with the Chicago Bulls! I would like to think that this was a very unusual situation as elsewhere we've seen a few cases where relationship breakdowns among teammates have meant that potential success has instead been shattered by messy break ups.
One of the most talked about splits in the 90s was the infamous love triangle involving Dallas Mavs young stars Jason Kidd and Jimmy Jackson, who were supposedly romantically involved with R&B singer Toni Braxton, resulting in jealousy and contempt. Although Jackson has denied this in recent years, the fact remains that something happened and it was significant enough to see that the gifted duo did not want to continue playing together.
The Dallas Mavericks were looking like a promising young team with stacks of potential. As well as Jackson and Kidd, there was also Jamal Mashburn who provided more young talent, and what looked like a successful future for a struggling franchise. The split will undoubtedly still leave some wondering what could've been.
A huge relationship meltdown which would come almost a decade later was between Shaq and Kobe. To some this may sound absurd as they won three titles together, but what would've happened if O'Neal was never traded? Could the Lakers have reigned during seasons 2000-09? We'll never know...