Kevin Durant Defends Kyrie Irving for Telling 'The Raw Truth' Despite Criticism

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 6, 2020

FILE - In this Nov. 1, 2019, file photo, Brooklyn Nets' Kyrie Irving, left, and Kevin Durant watch the game action from the bench during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets in New York. With so much uncertainty around the NBA season, Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks is no longer ruling Kevin Durant out for the season. Marks had repeatedly said he didn't expect Durant to play this season while recovering from Achilles tendon surgery, but he acknowledged Wednesday that everything is unknown now that the season is suspended because of the new coronavirus. Even Kyrie Irving, who had shoulder surgery on March 3, might be available if play stretched into the summer. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

Kevin Durant defended outspoken Brooklyn Nets teammate Kyrie Irving for telling the "raw truth" despite knowing he would receive backlash for speaking his mind.

Durant explained his view of Irving during an appearance Wednesday on the Play For Keeps podcast (via ESPN's Royce Young).

"What does misunderstood mean?" Durant said. "I think the truth sometimes can hurt a lot of people. When you tell the raw truth, especially in this society, it's frowned upon. And Kyrie just tells it like it is. There's no sugarcoating."

In June, Irving said the NBA shouldn't resume the 2019-20 season because of the nationwide social justice movement, per Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic:

Shams Charania @ShamsCharania

Kyrie Irving told NBA players on call Friday, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium: "I don’t support going into Orlando. I’m not with the systematic racism and the bullshit. Something smells a little fishy."

While the reaction was mixed, some privately agreed with him, including an unnamed "widely respected NBA player" who questioned how a resumption of play would impact the situation to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

"Once we start playing basketball again, the news will turn from systemic racism to who did what in the game last night," the player said. "It's a crucial time for us to be able to play and blend that and impact what's happening in our communities. We are asking ourselves, 'Where and how can we make the biggest impact?'"

The Nets' Wilson Chandler added:

Wilson Chandler @wilsonchandler

* backbone to speak his mind. Whether I’m on the court playing or not I respect and support his opinion.

Irving has been a polarizing figure throughout his NBA career, which included previous stints with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics, in large part because he's always willing to speak out.

Durant, who's no stranger to backlash after his 2016 move from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Golden State Warriors, doesn't see that as a negative trait, though.

The dynamic duo will link up for Brooklyn for the first time next season after KD missed the entire 2019-20 campaign while recovering from a ruptured Achilles.