Basketball

LeBron James applauds former teammate as he heads out of Cleveland

LeBron James and Kyrie Irving enjoy a big play during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Atlanta Hawks on May 26, 2015.
LeBron James and Kyrie Irving enjoy a big play during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Atlanta Hawks on May 26, 2015. AP

If anyone knows how Cleveland fans can get when one of their beloved sports stars bolts town, it’s LeBron James.

So, when Kyrie Irving was traded to Boston on Tuesday night after word leaked he wanted to be moved, James tried to make sure his now-former teammate landed softly with his new squad.

On Tuesday night, a fan named Tony Hartman shared a video on Twitter of a blue, Irving Cavaliers jersey with the caption ‘OK Cavs fans you know what to do.’

Instead of lighting fire to the jersey as many in Cleveland did when James left the team in 2010 for the Miami Heat, Hartman dropped a hand-written note on top of the jersey.

‘Thank U so much,’ the note read, a little heart at the bottom.

James retweeted Hartman’s note with a message of his own, thanking Irving for his time in Cleveland.

‘That’s the only way to be with the kid,’ James wrote. ‘Nothing but respect and what a ride it was.’

In their three years together since James returned from Miami in 2014, the Cavaliers have been to the NBA Finals three consecutive seasons.

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The Cavs beat Golden State in Game 7 (thanks to a 3-pointer from Irving) of the 2016 Finals to bring Cleveland its first pro sports title since the Cleveland Browns won the NFL championship — it wasn’t even called the Super Bowl back then — in 1964.

Cleveland got Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and Ante Zizic as well as the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 (unprotected) first-round draft pick.

Irving will not have to wait long to meet up with his old teammates.

The Celtics visit Cleveland on opening night on Oct. 17.

George Richards: 305-376-4995, @GeorgeRichards

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