In a 75-minute interview on Showtime’s “All the Smoke,” Kevin Durant told Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson why he wanted to come to Brooklyn and why he wanted to play with the man he describes as “an artist,” Kyrie Irving.
Durant said in short that the Nets were an “perfect” fit for him, noting that playing in an “up-and-coming city” like Brooklyn appealed to him, as did playing with his friends, Irving and DeAndre Jordan and a young core. And he noted, as well, that two Nets staffers who went from OKC to Brooklyn before him helped give him a comfort level with the Nets.
“I just happened to play for another team. It is what it is,” said Durant in explaining why he left Golden State where he had won two championships but wasn’t completely happy.
The Nets, he said, were always at the top of his list. When Barnes asked did you ever consider anywhere other that Brooklyn, KD made it clear the Nets were the favorite from early on.
“Not really. I looked at the Clippers. I took a peek at the Knicks through my due diligence but I really wanted to play for the black and white,” Durant said. “I liked the brand. Brooklyn was an up-and-coming city that needed some new flair. new basketball injection. Because being in Oklahome City, I knew what that was like, having a new franchise around. I was excited about hopefully doing something like that again in Brooklyn with a new team.”
The pairing with Irving played a big role, he noted.
“Playing with Kyrie Irving who’s from Jersey and got that tie with the Jersey side of things. We could bring them home,” he said. “We could bring in so many fans. So we had a solid thing going. You know what I’m sayin?
“We had Sean Marks, who’s a young GM, who’s up-and-coming, a young team that has some, a little bit of experience in the playoffs. It all worked out. And then having a couple of trainers and coaches who I worked with in Oklahoma City, worked with during my time in the league felt like they migrated to the Nets and you know it felt like it was perfect.”
The Nets trainer, Sebastien Poirier, and assistant coach, Adam Harrington, were both close to Durant when they were all in OKC. Poirier was an assistant trainer with the Thunder, Harrington the shooting coach. Durant and Harrington had a particularly close relationship.
Durant spoke as well about how the “Clean Sweep” came together, that it wasn’t just a late night conversation a few days before free agency. He, Irving and DeAndre Jordan had been talking about playing together for a while and that neither of them were completely happy in Boston for Irving, Golden State for Durant.
“I’ve been having conversations with Kyrie for the last two years,” he noted. “Not even about playing together, as just brothers. We didn’t plan on playing together. We played against each other in my second year with the Warriors and we had a mutual friend and we just bonded together and we bonded on life in general ... and basketball in general, that just formed over time.
“He didn’t like where his situation was at and me either in Golden State. And just to see how this will work. Let’s try it out. And DJ wanted to play with us and be that center for us that can hold it down and play for something really, play for a team that’s going somewhere and not just bouncing around the league. We knew he’d be a vital piece for us going forward, not just as a star, but being a good teammate. So it just worked out.”
Durant spoke as well about how he anticipates their relationship on the court will evolve ... as well that Irving is already accomplished, arguing that his Game 7 dagger in the 2016 NBA Finals was “the biggest shot of all-time.”
“We both want to challenge each other,” Durant said. “We don’t agree on everything. When I see out there and feel he could be doing more, I’m going to let him know ... my thing with Kyrie is that I’m going to let him be who he is. He’s a pure artist of the game. And he’s proven himself on the biggest stage. In my opinion, he made the biggest shot of all time.
“For somebody like that, I can’t tell him what to do. I’m just going to work with him and see if we can come together and make this thing work for the whole group. He’s someone who can control or take over a game with just the ease of anybody who’s ever played. A lot of people just want to talk about his mentality but if you just watch him on the basketball court you can’t deny how he makes you feel on the basketball court.”
He also let Knicks fans know he was not crazy about all the rumors he and Kyrie were headed for the Garden ... particularly when he was playing for the Warriors and he noted that he never gave the rumors any encouragement.
“That’s the media hyping that sh*t up. I never came out and said anything about me wanting to play for the Knicks, ever. Ever,” Durant said. “Then when we came here last year, they had the billboards up and somebody asked me about it, and I wasn’t too excited about it, because I didn’t like it.
“It wasn’t like I had something against the Knicks. I just didn’t like all that attention when I was playing for another team. I never really was big on that New York thing. It was just everybody else, the media, the fans. The Knick fans, they wanted a superstar to come play for them finally. I never promised anybody I was playing for the Knicks.”
As for when he will return, KD didn’t put a date on it, but said in the interim, players other than he and Irving are getting “great experience.”
“All my teammates are getting a great experience and knowing what it’s like to have two guys just waiting — especially me not playing — they know when I get out on the court people are going to start to be in their right positions,” Kevin Durant said, referring to himself and injured Kyrie Irving.
“We’re going to start to figure out what the team looks like. I think everybody’s just being patient.”
KD spoke as well as about some of his “feuds,” saying in general that the media had exacerbated them, whether it was what evolved when he left Golden State or in recent weeks in his Twitter beef with former teammate Kendrick Perkins ... but was careful not to lump everyone together. What some see as a rivalry or enmity, KD says is just him.
“Me just being me, and responding to stuff and interacting with people. I think the reason this sh*t is still going on [is] a lot of the media, they bully me, they want to bully me. They found a crack or a crease in my armor and they want to use that against me somehow. So they regurgitate the same old story. same old story lines. recreate beefs with players, former teammates...”
Barnes interjected, “They blow everything out of proportion.”
“And I’m like I see what you;re doing. That’s the reason I don’t like the media in the first place. And if the shoe fits —and I’m not trying to group everybody in the same thing— but there’s a reason why I don’t f*ck with you all. But I know what you’re trying to do. You knwo what I’m saying? You’re not slick and you know when I call it out, I’m a sensitive guy.
“That’s how the media in Oklahoma City made their money the last four years ... sh*tting on me.”
He also accused the media of overplaying disputes in the Warrior locker room.
Take a listen. There’s a lot more there.
- Kevin Durant: I never considered playing for the Knicks - Brian Lewis - New York Post