Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving Reveal How Relationship Evolved Prior to Joining Nets

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 29, 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

Brooklyn Nets teammates Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving said the long-term evolution of their friendship led to their decision to join the same team in free agency last summer.

They discussed the situation during the debut episode of The ETCs with Kevin Durant podcast. KD, who won two titles with the Golden State Warriors, explained that their daily FaceTime conversations about the game revealed how much they had in common:

"I felt the relationship grew just off of straight up respect before we even started having conversations. It was just a respect for who he is as a man and that mutual respectful for how we came up as men and our journeys to this point. And then once we started to kick in and talk about what we'd like to do outside of the game and who our family started to meet, and it just became easy, you know? And obviously the common ground is how we hoop and how we love the game of basketball, but it just branched off from there.

"And we started to every day on FaceTime. What do you think about this shot? What'd you think about this move that I did in this game? How about you know, when [Boston Celtics head coach] Brad [Stevens] take you out, it was six minutes to go on the first quarter, you know what you're going to do, how you approach the game coming back. Like we would have these types of conversations all day, every day. And it grew from there. It just grew from there, it was organic, you know what I'm saying? And it wasn't something that you can kind of pinpoint and say like, this was the moment. It just, it just happened."

Irving agreed with the sentiment, saying there's a "synergy" he feels with Durant that's going to make them a perfect on-court match when they finish their respective injury recoveries:

"Yeah. And from that point, I feel like we pushed each other. We took the power back and put it in our hands as well, took our power back. I enjoy the journey up until this point. But at the same time, doing it with a family member, not just a friend somebody that you just kick it with and you're like let's go hoop today and you see them only at the arena. And it's like we have our way of living life but like I said, the synergy is connected to who we are as people first. And then the respect of what we do on the court as artists comes out in the way we play. And when we look at it as like, man, we're playing pickup and I'm like, man, I'm glad I got that guy on my team right there. We're going at each other though. We're going at each other. We're playing one-on-one. And I think I've always wanted that."

Durant missed the entire 2019-20 season because of a ruptured Achilles, while Irving sat out the end of the campaign after undergoing shoulder surgery.

The two-time NBA Finals MVP added that his respect for Irving began to grow during the Duke product's rookie season with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2011-12 when he took a game against Durant's star-studded OKC squad "serious" despite playing for what KD called a "sh--ty" Cavs squad.

Now they're prepared to link up to instantly transform the Nets into championship contenders next season.

Durant and Irving will be joined by Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert, DeAndre Jordan, Taurean Prince and Jarrett Allen to give Brooklyn one of the deepest, most talented roster in the Eastern Conference.

The Nets hired former All-Star point guard Steve Nash to serve as the team's head coach to help completion the transformation into a title contender.

Nash told ESPN's Marc J. Spears he spoke with both of the superstar players before taking the job.

"Frankly, we're just all excited. It's that honeymoon period," he said. "We are all thrilled we get a chance to do this and do this together. Shortly, we will get to work. Unfortunately, it won't be necessarily on the court with the guys. But in terms of doing work behind the scenes, we will continue to build our culture."

It's probably going to take some time before the Nets start clicking on all cylinders next season between Nash implementing his system and getting everybody on the same page with Durant and Irving dominating the offensive touches.

So, while they may not compile a dominant regular-season record, they could follow a similar path as the Heat, who posted a 44-29 mark to earn the fifth seed in the East before rolling through the playoffs to reach the NBA Finals.

It'll be an intriguing storyline to follow, but Durant and Irving already sound excited about the chance to play alongside each other after years of mutual admiration from afar.