Cleveland Cavaliers star Kyrie Irving has requested a trade, similar to when Stephon Marbury wanted out from the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Irving, who may want the spotlight after playing second-fiddle to LeBron James, could soon leave Cleveland. Marbury was in a similar situation playing with Kevin Garnett. According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, some around the NBA have compared Irving to Marbury.
Marbury was raised in Brooklyn, New York and Irving grew up in New Jersey. But there is significantly more to the story.
In a recent column, Howard Beck wrote about the two point guards (via Bleacher Report):
What Irving is doing has no precedent in the modern era. The closest analogy is Stephon Marbury’s envy-fueled decision to leave Kevin Garnett in 1999. And that’s not a model anyone should follow. The Marbury-KG pairing was special. But contract jealousies drove Marbury to force a trade to New Jersey, and his career spiraled downward from there.
For perspective, many like to compare the two players during their third NBA season.
This is a convenient comparison because Irving played three seasons without LeBron James, so this was his most recent season in which he was his team’s go-to guy. Marbury was traded from the Timberwolves during his third professional season.
Marbury averaged 21.3 points and 8.9 assists while shooting 42.8 percent from the field. He also posted a 20.8 PER along with 5.3 Win Shares for his team. Irving averaged 20.8 points and 6.1 assists while shooting 43 percent from the field. His PER was 20.1 and he posted 6.7 win shares.
Linking the players is nothing new; many NBA analysts have made this comparison over the years.
One unnamed scout spoke about the comparison in 2014 (via ESPN):
“I think Kyrie is Stephon Marbury. Marbury was a great talent, too, but he never won. Steph was a pain in the butt, and Kyrie’s not like that. He’s not malicious. He’s smart, he’s more polished than Marbury. He’s got the commercials and he’s an engaging personality, but engaging only takes you so far. I really think he’s just a scorer, and that’s what Steph was. Kyrie can do whatever he wants to. He’s got the ball on a string, he can get in the lane whenever he wants, but so far, he’s chosen just to be a scorer rather than getting other guys involved. Guys say he doesn’t trust his teammates, but you’re talking about Luol Deng and Tristan Thompson. Those are good players. I’m just not buying into Kyrie.”
It’s not exactly a huge insult to put the two players in the same conversation considering Marbury was dominant when he first came into the league. In fact, the stats are similar beyond just their third seasons in the NBA.
While it’s maybe not the most flattering look for Irving, the two players will likely continue to be mentioned together if Irving leaves Cleveland like Marbury left Minnesota.
While Marbury flamed out of the league, he has had remarkable success in China and will play one last season next year.