Kevin Durant on Friendship with Kyrie; LeBron-like influence

NEW YORK – Kevin Durant was tired, not crushed.

Discouraged but still confident of his personal future with the Brooklyn Nets and his friendship with Kyrie Irving.

The Nets were swept away by the more cohesive and determined Boston Celtics, a sweep that was recorded as the first in Durant’s 14 NBA seasons. The same is true for Irving, who missed much of the season due to being unvaccinated against COVID-19.

Irving told the media he has no plans to leave Brooklyn as he may opt out of his contract and go into free agency this summer.

Durant did not hesitate when Yahoo Sports after his press conference asked if he would continue to have Irving as a teammate.

“Of course,” Durant said. “I would love that he played more. Life is much more important to me than that. I can not get angry. I can not end the friendship based on such a thing. Our friendship is based on who we are as human beings. Basketball adds “If we do not get out of it on the basketball court, we can easily talk it out as friends.”

He shouted a demonstrative “hell, no” when asked if the season put a strain on his friendship with Irving, but admitted it went through some tough moments when Durant had to carry a heavy burden. Initially, Nets banished Irving and did not allow him to play road matches until attrition hit the team around the new year.

“Yeah yeah. Him who’s not around, he wants to be around,” Durant told Yahoo Sports. “To have conversations, to miss games, to miss playing together. There was not much more I could do. It was out of my control. The best thing I could do was get to work and be me and make sure the situation in the building was right for everyone. “

Brooklyn Nets striker Kevin Durant reacts during Game 4 of the Nets' first-round NBA playoff series against the Boston Celtics at the Barclays Center on April 25, 2022. The Celtics swept the Nets.  (Brad Penner / USA TODAY Sports)

Brooklyn Nets striker Kevin Durant reacts during Game 4 of the Nets’ playoff series in the first round against the Boston Celtics at the Barclays Center on Monday. The Celtics swept the Nets. (Brad Penner / USA TODAY Sports)

He knew he could not force Irving to be vaccinated, so he said his frustration was limited to the immediate period only after hard nights.

“I would be mad after a fight if I did not have him out there,” Durant told Yahoo Sports. “Being triple-teamed or whatever, like Kai would definitely help tonight, though [mad at] him individually? Nah. “

There was only so much Durant could control as that James Harden came into training camp out of shape and performed a bit behind the scenes, leading to his deadline-day switch to Philadelphia for Ben Simmons – who went a full year without playing.

As diminished as Harden has looked, it looked like he would at least have helped in terms of Simmons being inactive throughout the series.

“James? Is he on his way? I wish things had been different,” Durant confessed to Yahoo Sports. I wish it was different. I can not say that I was so emotional.

“They are grown men. I can not control how they feel. They can change their minds. Everyone gets that grace. Life is too great for me to be so sad. I understand that people want me to to feel in a way.

Durant is why Brooklyn is relevant in the NBA ecosystem. He understands that and knows the perception that he manages the organization, from Irving is around until Steve Nash is elected as head coach.

He bites back on it, puts “franchise player” in quotes and calls himself another part of the machine. Durant, LeBron James and former teammate Steph Curry are the biggest names in the sport. James’ influence on the Lakers has been widely speculated, and the Lakers flopped – not unlike the Nets underperforming this season with speculation that Durant had a similar influence.

‘I feel like it’s a narrative [media created]. “I do not even think LeBron does,” Durant told Yahoo Sports. “He may have input or know some information. But he says [pointing left]’It’s the one you’ll get.’ [Points right.] ‘It’s the one you’ll get’, I do not think it works that way.

“I’ve been around Steph, he does not work like that. Let people do their work. It is not me who has to transcend what they do. I’m here just to support. If they need me to write or call someone who can come, of course. “

Durant said he helped recruit Goran Dragic when Dragic was bought out and released by San Antonio in February.

“I’m not, ‘This is the list of guys,'” Durant said. “Sean [Marks, Nets general manager] will strike me as: ‘Goran is interested, what do you think?’ I [contacted] Hi M. It’s always the one I’ve been since I came here. I’ve never been in control. I do not want it.

“I do not want to know because I’m the ‘franchise player’, it’s just the fact that I want to know who my teammates are. It’s disrespectful of me to come and try to ignore what they do because of my status. in the league. It’s not fair to them. Everyone has a career. I just want to know. “

Durant turns 34 in September and comes after a playoff performance he would like to forget as the years get more expensive.

His best performance was a 39-point performance in Game 4, but shot only 38.5% in this series and had a tough time with Boston’s swarming defense, where he turned the ball over more than in any playoff game throughout his career.

It’s far from last summer when his playoff performances gave him a level of recognition in a defeat that final victories in Golden State did not do from a decent segment of people.

As it looked unfair, this was supposed to be the year a Durant-led team trampled its way to the top. And even though he played up to MVP standards before injuring his knee in January, that reputation is getting a blow with the sweep.

“It’s objective. The one who played well that night is the best player,” Durant told Yahoo Sports. “I never really believed it. [stuff]. It’s not my mentality that plays. ”

Brooklyn's Kevin Durant embraces and congratulates Boston's Jayson Tatum after the Celtics swept the Nets in the first round of the NBA Finals on April 25, 2022. (Elsa / Getty Images)

Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant embraces and congratulates Boston’s Jayson Tatum after the Celtics swept the Nets in the first round of the NBA Finals on April 25, 2022. (Elsa / Getty Images)

Being knocked out so early and definitely able to register this as a lost season as no one knows how long he has still been playing at this high level.

“I maximize my years out of how I get up and approach my craft. It’s not always about the outcome of the game,” Durant told Yahoo Sports. “I do this because I really [enjoy] get up and enjoy going to work. It’s simple for me. Winning championships and getting an average of a certain number of points, All-Star Games, do not misunderstand me. I want all that. But if I do not get it, I’m still excited that I’ll be in the NBA. ”

All the principles have recognized that the Eastern Conference is getting stronger, as evidenced by Celtic’s performance. Durant was sometimes matched against Jayson Tatum – even though Tatum had the advantage of the Celtics’ infrastructure and the defense did not Durant – but he was still impressed.

“I told Jayson when he went to high school that he wanted to sell shoes, he wanted to be an All-Star,” Durant said. “So for him to do this? I expect him to do this; it’s no surprise to me. I expect him to be a Hall of Famer, 30,000 points, three times Olympian. I expect that from him, because it is “how talented he is. He is so great.”

Durant now becomes a fan of the game unlike a participant, a feeling that seems strange considering his status – but a feeling he can change, whether he admits to having the influence or not.

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