Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant officially joined forces last summer — they’ve admitted it was a decision solidified at the All-Star break back in February 2019 — but we’ve yet to see the two on the floor together as Durant continued his rehab from his Achilles tear and was unable to play this year.
Next season, whenever that may begin, we will finally see the duo together for the first time under new head coach Steve Nash. On Thursday, the two released part two of their two-hour long conversation on Durant’s new “The ETCs” podcast, in which they discussed everything from their relationship on and off the court to their new coach, with Irving noting he doesn’t see anyone as a “head coach” necessarily and Durant calling it a “collaborative effort.”
Among the discussion points was Durant’s co-host Eddie Gonzalez asking the question that is always posed to new star combinations: Who takes the last shot. The answer from Irving will certainly raise some eyebrows, not with his assessment of how the Nets will handle those situations, but with his thoughts on past teams he’s been on.
“Depends on who’s hot,” Irving said. “I don’t see it as anything other than that. 1-3 pick-and-roll or it’s an iso for either one of us or it’s something great for our team. One thing I’ve always been comfortable with is, I felt like I was the best option on every team I’ve played for down the stretch. This is the first time in my career where I can look down and be like, that motherf*cker can make that shot too and he’ll probably do it a lot easier. I feel like, yo, it’s not so much deferring, because in past situations if I didn’t take the last shot I felt guilty. I was like I want this game-winning shot but you want to trust your teammates — not to say I didn’t have the trust in my teammates — but I felt like I was the best option. And now, 10 seconds down, OK, K, get us a f*ckin bucket, I don’t care. I’m going to crash the offensive glass. I know how to play the game without the ball. I’m like, yo, if he makes, misses, I’m living with it. If I make, miss, he’s living with it. I think when you match that up together, hey, now you get to really see it, two guys that are unselfish with that end of the game but going for that game-winner we’re trying to make it and that’s all I care about.”
Durant would concur, noting he wouldn’t have any issues standing in the corner and letting Irving take control late in some games because of the importance of playing the decoy sometimes was something he learned in his time with the Warriors. It’s the right approach and it’s nice to hear two stars that think that way, but the focal point of the conversation will surely be on Irving saying it’s the “first time in my career where I can look down and be like, that motherf*cker can make that shot too” and he’s always felt he’s been his team’s best option, given that he once played with, you know, LeBron James.
Irving certainly hit some huge shots with the Cavs, none bigger than his Game 7 game-winner in the 2016 NBA Finals, but one would think he would’ve had the same approach with James — or at least seen it that way in hindsight. That said, James’ approach and Irving’s approach and the shots they create and take late in games are different, so there is maybe something there to Irving looking at Durant as someone capable of creating the looks he would be trying to make more than LeBron. Still, it’s an eyebrow raising quote but that’s come to be the norm for Irving. The good news for the Nets is it seems he and KD are very much on the same page with their relationship and where they see themselves fitting on the court, and the rest is just fodder for the rest of us.