UPDATE: Kyrie Irving will be talking live Friday night at 6 pm.
Oh Kyrie, oh KD. You’ve done it again and created headlines.
In the second part of Kevin Durant’s “The Etcs with Kevin Durant” podcast, he and Kyrie Irving talked about everything from Kenny Atkinson to Steve Nash and the “collaborative” era of coaching to how Irving feels comfortable with Durant, implying in fact that he trusts him more than any other teammate ... apparently including LeBron James!
Durant spoke about how much the two want coaching “every single day” but an input as well.
“A lot of people may question our leadership, overall or just us two,” Durant admitted. “But when me and Ky talked about being coached every single day, that’s leading by example.
“A lot our teammates are going to follow suit once they see we’re getting coached and continue to ask questions about the game. Having Steve there and collaborating with our floor general every day is only going to yield good results.”
They also dismissed speculation that they were behind Atkinson’s departure on March 3 (although as many have noted, it’s difficult to imagine the Nets dumping the head coach if one or both of them had objected.)
“I want to give a shout out to Kenny Atkinson,” Irving said. “Because some people came out and was like, ‘Yo, Ky and KD got Kenny fired.’ And look, that was completely false. Listen, Kenny was great for the group that he served, and I was very appreciative of what he was giving us throughout the season when we were playing.”
Irving spoke as well of his hopes for Nash.
“We always heard how great Nash was or saw how great Nash was as a player, but also when you get to know him as a person, you understand why he can co-exist with us because we don’t need somebody to come in and put their coaching philosophy on everything that we’re doing and change up the wheel and, ‘Yo, you guys need to start doing this,’ and we start running on the first day of practice, and it’s just like, “No.’
Then, Irving and Durant discussed the first item that people seized on once the podcast ended: The too implied that the role of the head coach has changed in the era of player empowerment.
“It’s going to change the way we see coaches. I don’t really see us having a head coach,” Irving said, a little ambiguous about whether he was talking about the job or play-calling. “KD could be a head coach; I could be a head coach.”
Durant interjected, “Jacque Vaughn could be a head coach could do it one day. It’s a collaborative effort.”
“We don’t need someone to come in with their coaching philosophy, change everything we’re doing, change up the wheel, and we’re going to start running on the first day of practice. No,” said Irving.
As for what he wants in a head coach, Irving continued along the same theme, noting that he wants someone who understands that he’s not just a player, a cipher, but a person. He also said he believes Nash will hold him accountable.
“I want somebody, I need somebody that’s going to understand that I am a human being first,” Irving told his new teammate. “I serve my community and where I come from first, and then basketball is something I come and do every single day because I love [it], and also I have the right ingredients and people around me to come in and do my job at a high level, and I know that they will hold me accountable to that level.
“It’s no disrespect to Kenny or any other coaches I played with, it’s just Steve coming in at this moment and then following up with putting together a great coaching core was going to make us more successful.”
Irving spoke as well as his role as a players union activist, one that was the center of controversy back in June. He questioned whether players should keep playing in light of social justice concerns like the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
“I heard something Maya Angelou said: “One person standing on the word of God is the majority. I’m going to speak on what I feel is right. And that comes with a price.”
And what about the criticism from former players like Kendrick Perkins, Irving replied, “Oh bro. Honestly, I see it as – it makes it cool for the sport, entertainment. But it’s not cool when it effects people’s families.”
Maybe the biggest headline out of the podcast was basically a compliment for Durant. He also didn’t exactly expouse personal humility in talking about his role.
“One thing I’ve always been comfortable with is, I felt like I was the best option on every team I’ve played for down the stretch,” Irving said. “This is the first time in my career where I can look down be like, ‘That motherf***** can make that shot, too.”
Of course, Irving played with LeBron James in Cleveland, going to the Finals three times and winning it all once, in 2016. Irving has complimented James as well in the past, as one of his fans noted.
JANUARY 2020 KYRIE IRVING ON LEBRON JAMES: pic.twitter.com/bFJcexatOI— 7 Eleven Saint ™ (@7elevenst) October 1, 2020
Later, as controversy over the remarks raged on social media (particularly, you guessed it, in the Boston), Irving went on Instagram to say, as he has in the past, that we live in a “clickbait society” and that people should understand, “It’s just a game.”
Kyrie Irving fires back at the 'clickbait society' pic.twitter.com/xVV7fCHIxc— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) October 1, 2020
“Why must it always be brother against brother? Why? If I’m addressing anyone, I’ll say their name,” Irving said. “Come on y’all; don’t listen to the false narratives. Let people live their lives. It’s just a game. Talk about the art, talk about the sport, we talk openly, we talk freely. But, because we live in a clickbait society, it becomes something bigger. “You don’t have to defend it. That’s just what media is — its entertainment. I’m not going to let it put me against anybody anymore at any point, because that’s not what it’s about. We talk freely, openly and that’s our society. Say how you feel. Don’t have to put me against anyone else. It’s never been about that. It’s about the love. Peace.”
Moreover, one Boston writer, John Karalis of Reds Army, tweeted out that he saw nothing wrong in what Irving said.
I just listened to the Kyrie head coaching stuff in context in the podcast... He was just talking about collaborative effort. I didn't hear anything nefarious like it's been portrayed. Looks bad out of context but in context it was no big deal— John Karalis (@RedsArmy_John) October 1, 2020
Richard Jefferson on ESPN’s “The Jump” said he was “disappointed to say the least” and said he felt it was a “shot” at James. Vince Carter appearing with him said he agreed with his former Nets teammate but said he’d like to listen to what was said to determine the context.
- Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving raise alarms with bizarre Nets coaching plan - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Irving, KD laud Nash as Nets’ new coach - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Kyrie Irving: Kevin Durant is my first clutch teammate, and he’s as much of a head coach as Steve Nash - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant talk collaborative effort under Steve Nash: ‘I don’t really see us having a coach’ - Danny Abriano - SNY
- Kyrie Irving: Kenny Atkinson ‘was great for the group that he served’ - Nick Friar - USA Today
- Kyrie Irving: Nets don’t have ‘head’ coach - Dan Mennella - WFAN
- Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant say Brooklyn Nets’ coaching will be ‘collaborative effort’ - Royce Young - ESPN
- Did Kyrie Irving throw shade at LeBron with his Kevin Durant ‘clutch’ comment? (Video) - Rachel Nichols, Richard Jefferson & Vince Carter
- Kyrie Irving denies throwing shade at LeBron James after praising Kevin Durant - Sacha Pisani - Sporting News
- Rookie Nash eager to learn on the job - John Torenli - Brooklyn Eagle