Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were finally introduced to the New York media as members of the Brooklyn Nets on Friday. The pair spoke to the press, with the now-former Celtics guard going first and, at one point, dropping an interesting line about the circumstances that surrounded the injury that is expected to keep his All-NBA teammate out for the entire season.
Irving believes a number of people should shoulder responsibility Durant taking the floor in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, which marked his first game after a month of rehabbing a calf injury he suffered during the Western Conference Semifinals. Durant looked excellent, but in the second quarter, he ruptured his Achilles. Plenty of speculation abounded regarding how this happened, but in Irving’s eyes, it was simple: Everyone cared more about the “product” over Durant.
Kyrie Irving says "a lot of people" are responsible for Kevin Durant tearing his Achilles:
"We all know K was not ready to play in that environment…we put him on a national stage to end up selling a product to came before the person" pic.twitter.com/usyACYCufW
— SNY (@SNYtv) September 27, 2019
“I think you have to go inside the mind of a competitor and realize that a lot of people have responsibilities for why that ended up happening the way it happened on a national scale,” Irving said. “We all know K was not ready to play in that environment, we all know that. Whether people wanna admit it or not. He was out 31 days and put him on a national stage in the finals to end up selling a product that came before the person, Kevin.”
Irving went onto say that he is going to take a major role in making sure this does not happen in Brooklyn. He stressed that he is going to be “the protector” of the circle that is forming around Durant, one that will make sure he does not come anywhere close to suiting up and playing basketball before his body is right.
“We have expectations for our team, we obviously know he’s an integral part, but we’ll wait for that,” Irving said. “I’ll be over-patient with Kevin, because I don’t want anything like that to happen to anyone again, especially on that type of stage where it happened, and him having to answer questions about whether or not he’s coming back or not. So, I’m here to dispel it that you’ll never hear me say he’s coming back here, or I think he’s coming. I want him to be 101 percent healthy.”
Watching Durant go down in the Finals is still one of the more surreal moments in recent NBA history. Beyond the immediate reaction from fans in Toronto, the fact that perhaps the best basketball player in the world suffered such a serious injury on that stage to mark the end of his dominant run with the Golden State Warriors, followed by everything that happened in the ensuing day or two, was quite the emotional roller-coaster.
Irving gets all of this and wants to do everything he can to prevent a similar situation from happening. While the Nets will be a good team without Durant, they have the potential to win a championship with him, so if he can get back to being as good as we all know he can be, it could end up being totally worth the wait.