Frustrated with media reports he says have unfairly portrayed him this season, the Cavaliers All-Star guard said Saturday that he’s happy in Cleveland and only focused on winning.
”The barrage and little bit of attack that I saw, I’ve been getting it all season and I feel I definitely don’t deserve it,” Irving said before the Cavs were beaten 96-94 in overtime by the Charlotte Bobcats, doing further damage to Cleveland’s slim playoff hopes. ”It’s one of those things where I can deal with it, but at a certain point, it’s gotten too much. It’s been like that the whole entire season.”
Following a disappointing loss in Atlanta on Friday, Irving went on Twitter to defend himself against a report that said he wants out of Cleveland. The Cavs can offer him a maximum contract extension this summer.
”Sick to my stomach with all these rumors and accusations,” Irving wrote in one of four tweets posted on his account. ”Can I play without media guessing at my life.”
Before scoring a career-high 44 points with eight assists and seven rebounds in Saturday’s game, Irving, who recently missed eight games with a strained left biceps, said he’s tired of the negative publicity and speculation about his future.
”They’re writing reports, `Is he staying or is he going?”’ Irving said. ”I mean that’s the last of my worries right now. It’s portraying me in a light and it’s bringing negativity to the team that I don’t want. Our focus right now and my focus right now is winning and trying to finish out the season strong. That’s where my focus has been and where it’s going to stay.”
A former No. 1 overall pick, Irving has not made the postseason yet during his pro career. He has missed nearly 49 games with an assortment of injuries, and Irving has been criticized for not making his teammates better.
Irving isn’t claiming to be perfect, but he feels there has been too much scrutiny on him.
”For a third-year player, it’s been frustrating,” Irving said. ”No other third-year player is probably going through what I’m going through right now, which has been the most frustrating part. It’s just gotten to a point where I needed to say something.”
The Cavs trail Atlanta for the final playoff spot by three games with five left. Once the season ends, the team must decide whether to keep interim general manager David Griffin, and then the club’s attention will turn to Irving, who was named MVP of the All-Star game this season and has emerged as one of the league’s rising young stars.
The 22-year-old understands he’s going to have his critics, but he feels he’s too often been singled out by the media.
”It’s all nonsense to me,” said Irving, who sat in front of his locker for most of the interview. ”That’s part of the business. I get it. It’s part of the job. To go out and frame my character to something it’s not. … I’m not an attention seeker. I don’t go out trying to put all these rumors out. For people that feel that it’s a good thing to continue to put my name in the headlines to get reads, that’s your job, but at a certain point it’s got to stop.”