In his most fulsome comments on why he chose the Brooklyn Nets last year (and not another New York team), Kevin Durant told J.J. Redick in very simple terms that the Nets met all his requirements. Specifically, here’s what he told Redick’s ‘The Old Man and the Three’ podcast on Wednesday. It was posted Thursday.
“Around February (of 2019) I was thinking, ‘I didn’t want to be the savior of the Knicks or New York.’ I didn’t care about being the King of New York. That never really moved me. I didn’t care about being on Broadway. I just want to play ball and go to the crib and chill. So I felt like that’s what Brooklyn embodied. And I wanted to live in New York. And I felt like Brooklyn is everything I’m about — chill, on the low, all-black everything, we’re quiet. Just focus on basketball. There’s no show when you come to our games. No Madison Square, no Mecca. All of that sh—. We’re just going to hoop and build something new in Brooklyn.”
In addition to providing the rationale for his decision to join the Nets, KD’s comments also provide a new timeline for his decision-making process. February was five months before he actually put pen to paper with the Nets and is decidedly earlier than any previous reporting.
Durant also reiterated what he told reporters on Media Day last September, that the Knicks were never in the picture. At that point, he joked that he thought about the Knicks for “a couple of seconds.” His comments to Redick were similarly harsh.
“I never planned on going to the Knicks. That was just the media putting that out there, especially when I didn’t sign a three-year deal (in 2018). Once I signed a (one-year deal), just the noise got louder about me going to the Knicks for some reason. Knicks being the savior, you know how that goes. Every time a big free agent is up the Knicks are going to get him. So it just took off.”
Durant also intimated that those who spread the rumors had an ulterior motive that had nothing to do with either New York team. Instead, it was designed to hurt the Warriors title chances.
“No, I never planned on it — going to the Knicks. That was just the media putting that out there… I think the media just hyped it up and wanted to create drama around our team so much and around me that they made up this Knicks thing.”
The Knicks indeed thought they had a chance. As Stefan Bondy reports, the Knicks traded Kristaps Porzingis to Dallas on January 31, purportedly to clear cap space for a big acquisition. Then a little more than two weeks later, the rumors of Durant and Kyrie Irving to New York took off when a video of the two players talking at the All-Star Game went viral. The supposition, based on nothing more than Knick fans’ hopes, was that the two were talking about joining forces at the Garden
Then, in a famous March 2019 interview, a jazzed James Dolan told Michael Kay, “From what we’ve heard, we’re going to have a very successful offseason.” In that same conversation, he touted “the mecca of basketball,” which from what KD told Redick was not the lure Dolan thought it was. In fact, it was a turnoff.
As late as May 11, Stephen A. Smith led a chorus of pundits suggesting it was all a done deal, going on ESPN to state, “According to folks, I’ve spoken to, they’d put chances at 95 percent that KD and Kyrie come to New York next season.”
Meanwhile, the Nets moved quietly. As early as April, Nets executives privately expressed confidence that they would do well in their pursuit of top free agents and in May, Kenny Atkinson told Adrian Wojnarowski, “We’re going to have options. A, I think we all know what A is.”
By the time free agency rolled around, the Nets had completed what Woj called “a clean sweep,” as the two superstars and DeAndre Jordan agreed to sign four-year deals. Meanwhile, the Knicks couldn’t even get meetings with Durant, Irving or the three other superstars available: Kawhi Leonard, Tobias Harris or Jimmy Butler.
How big of a deal was in New York’s tabloids?
KD of course spoke as well as about Steve Nash, his new coach.
“I’m excited. Any time a former player gets to coach in the league, I’m excited because their level of knowledge of the game runs deep, especially his experiences on the floor. His insight for the game, his communication, patience, how he communicates the game of basketball is definitely going to help me as a player develop as a basketball player, help the rest of our team. Our relationship started with him playing and me admiring him as a player, playing against him, competing against him. and finally getting a chance to work out with Steve, probably seven or eight years ago. I understood how his mind works for the game. Every time I was in the gym with him, I was always like a sponge. I’m looking forward to this, man. I always feel like I’m a student of the game.”
As for Kyrie Irving, KD said he’s excited about seeing how they work off each other,” noting they’ve only played together in the Olympics and All-Star Games thus far.
And when asked if he thought Caris LeVert was “big enough” to be part of a Nets, “big three,” Durant responded, “For sure, for sure.” He added that the Nets may not need a “big three,” noting most contenders rely on a “big two.”
“Any given night, he could lead us in scoring or lead us in assists or he can control the offense or we can go to him in the post in a matchup,” Durant said. “I feel like he has the tools to do everything on the basketball court. On our team, we play unselfishly. We got guys that can play off the basketball. Any given night, anybody can be the star.”
Also on Wednesday, KD told Washington Football Team’s “Welcome Home Luncheon” that he’s fully healthy and will be ready to play when the 2020-21 NBA season begins. He added in his comments that “New York basketball is definitely looking for a team to support.”
“Yeah, I’m feeling fine. I can’t wait to get out there and play with my teammates,” said Durant, a longtime fan of the team once known as the Redskins. “Playing in Brooklyn, I’m excited. I can’t wait for the new NBA season.
“We’ve got a new, fresh team with me, Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan, Spencer Dinwiddie, a lot of guys on our team that our veterans,” Durant said. “I’m excited. It should be a fun time. New York basketball is definitely looking for a team to support. We’re going to come out there and play hard every single night and play exciting basketball.”
On Friday, Rich Kleiman, KD’s agent, manager and business partner, told Howard Beck’s “Full 48” podcast that the idea that Durant would shy away from pressure is insane.
“Obviously, Kevin Durant isn’t scared of a moment. That sounds insane. Kevin Durant is not scared of pressure. However, just people having an opinion or a preference that seems against the norm is always going to be confusing and annoying and bothersome. And Kevin’s made a lot of those decisions.”
Kleiman also suggested that KD’s jilting of the Knick fan base could be “an entertaining theme” whenever next season begins.
- Kevin Durant says he wanted ‘chill’ Brooklyn instead of being Knicks ‘savior’ - Stefan Bondy - New York Daily News
- Kevin Garnett: Steve Nash’s Nets could ‘possibly take over New York’ - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Kevin Durant was quickly turned off by idea of being Knicks savior - Marc Berman - New York Post
- Kevin Durant can’t wait for Steve Nash to teach him ‘more things’ - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Knicks now seem well-positioned to avoid a Kevin Durant-like error - Ian Begley - SNY
- Kevin Durant ‘Never Planned’ on Joining Knicks, ‘Excited’ to Learn From Steve Nash - Jordan Cohn - WFAN
- Kevin Durant weighs in on Nets’ hiring of Steve Nash - John Torenli - Brooklyn Eagle
- Nets’ Kevin Durant ‘excited’ to be coached by Steve Nash - Andrew Lopez - ESPN
- Kevin Durant Ruled Out New York Knicks Earlier Than Previously Known - Chris Sheridan - Forbes Sports
- Kevin Durant Was ‘Never’ Going To The Knicks, ‘Excited’ To Be Coached By Steve Nash - Adam Zagoria - Forbes Sports
- Kevin Durant: “I never planned on it — going to the Knicks” - Kurt Helin - NBC Sports
- Kevin Durant says he’s healthy, will be ready for beginning of 2020-21 NBA season - Ethan Cadence - NBC Sports Washington