George Karl Believes Kyrie Irving Could Push LeBron James to Return to Cavaliers

Alex KayCorrespondent IJanuary 13, 2013

Feb 17, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving (2) dribbles the ball against Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) in the third quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

While LeBron James is still down in South Beach—basking in the glory of his first NBA Finals victory with his Miami Heat teammates—there is once again talk that he could eventually return to the Cleveland Cavaliers

According to Chris Tomasson of FOX Sports Florida, Denver Nuggets coach George Karl believes King James is already bored of playing with superstar teammates, completely steamrolling most opponents and being an odds-on favorite to make a third straight championship appearance (and win for the second year in a row) this spring.

The 61-year-old head coach said of this:

I think LeBron is at that stage where he's challenging himself to motivate him to do something that's maybe more difficult," Karl said before Friday's game against Cleveland at the Pepsi Center. "I could see him maybe doing that (returning to the Cavaliers).

One of the main draws of returning to Cleveland is to play with second-year superstar Kyrie Irving, one of the league’s top young talents. Karl acknowledged the point guard would likely be a major factor in any hypothetical “decision” James would make to return to the Cavs.

The two are apparently close friends and LBJ has never had the opportunity to play with a top-flight PG during his NBA career—instead being saddled with the likes of Eric Snow, Jeff McInnis, Damon Jones and (an aging) Mike Bibby.

James has won in spite of these mediocre point guards, but it took a controversial defection from Cleveland to Miami to partner up with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade to get it done.

What has to intrigue LeBron would be the chance for atonement and getting to pair up with a player he once mentored—if he decided to rejoin the Cavs later on in his career.

The same subject came up just short of a year ago, as the Heat were preparing for a February contest in Cleveland. Of a potential return to the team that drafted him, James said (as per Tomasson):

I think it would be great. It would be fun to play in front of these fans again. I had a lot fun times in my seven years here. You can't predict the future, and hopefully I continue to stay healthy. I'm here as a Miami Heat player, and I'm happy where I am now, but I don't rule that out in no sense. And if I decide to come back, hopefully the fans will accept me.

It’s crucial to note that this comment was made well before James became the 2012 NBA Finals MVP and finally removed the stain of being a loser (when it counted). His public perception, career and legacy have been significantly altered since last June.

With the King finally earning a ring, it’s hard to imagine him jumping ship back to the struggling Cavaliers as early as 2014 (the elite forward can opt out of his contract that summer).

However, as long as Kyrie Irving is still with the Cavs and develops into one of the NBA’s best PGs, anything could happen and it’s not outside the realm of possibility that James returns to Cleveland.