INDEPENDENCE: Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters stepped in front of the media side by side Monday with a clear message: There is no rift and nothing left to see here.
“I love him as a friend, teammate, everything,” Waiters said of Irving. “I just want everybody to know that. I don’t hate this guy. I’m pretty sure he don’t hate me. I know he don’t hate me. I hope he don’t hate me.”
Waiters woke up from a nap Sunday and discovered he was caught in crossfire between his teammate, Irving, and his friend, Browns receiver Josh Gordon, after Gordon appeared on ESPN’s First Take recently and said he knew about a “rift” in the Cavs’ locker room.
Irving responded to the Beacon Journal and told Gordon to “stay in his sport and mind his own business,” which prompted Gordon to respond on Twitter that his remarks must have “touched a nerve.”
All of which led to Monday’s scene at Cleveland Clinic Courts, when the two young guards appeared together cracking jokes and presenting a united front.
“Throughout this whole year, with us two not liking each other, it’s total BS,” Waiters said. “We’ve been friends before we even made the NBA, before any of this. … Yeah, we still need to learn certain things. But I think at the end of the day, we’re genuinely friends.”
Waiters, who lives in the same building as Gordon, was playing pool with him Sunday night after this latest dust-up. Waiters set up a phone call between Irving and Gordon, too.
“There was no disrespect on my end to him or anything he does. I have the utmost respect for him,” Irving said. “But what I was just trying to clearly say was what Dion has been reiterating — what goes on with us, we want to keep it within us. We’ve had numerous occasions where we’ve been in the media about me and Dion’s relationship. I think me and him are just tired of it.”
Waiters insisted he isn’t complaining to Gordon about Irving or anything pertaining to the Cavs.
Two different sports
“I don’t talk about things that are going on inside the locker room. No, I don’t do that,” he said. “He plays football. I play basketball. Two different sports. At the end of the day, I’m not going to go down there running my mouth on something that he don’t even know what’s going on.”
Waiters couldn’t explain how Gordon came to the conclusions he did on national television.
“I didn’t see the interview, so I don’t know what it’s really all about,” Waiters said. “I didn’t see it on TV or whatnot. That’s his opinion. Everybody has their own opinion. He’s entitled to say what he said. He’s a man at the end of the day.”
It has been a turbulent week in what has been a drama-filled season for the Cavs, and particularly Irving, who has been hounded by speculation regarding his future most of this season.
Irving spent Friday firing back, first in the morning with his comments directed toward Gordon, and later Friday night when he went on the offensive against reports that he wants out.
Waiters has dealt with his share, too, from teammates complaining about his attitude to rumors surrounding an early-season team meeting following a loss at Minnesota.
“You just get tired of it,” Waiters said. “I’ve been in the media so much that it’s regular to me now. I just hate when people put out stories that aren’t true. Be man enough to come ask me. I’ll give it to you uncut. I don’t got nothing to hide.
“I think everybody knows my personality. I may not come off the right way, but I don’t mean no harm. Everybody gets tired of it, especially with our relationship. They don’t know what we do.”