Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving went to the Brooklyn Nets together in 2019 and have been among the preseason favorites to win it all the past two seasons since KD returned from his Achilles injury. They had James Harden with them for a while too and looked like nothing would stop them, but injuries and off-field issues ended those dreams and the Nets now find themselves without Harden, having been swept out of the first round by the Boston Celtics.
All this would put a strain on the best of friendships, so it's natural that following their very disappointing playoff exit, Kevin Durant was asked about his feelings regarding the whole matter, and in particular, Kyrie Irving. After all, Irving's decision to not get vaccinated did cost the team significant time where they could have gelled together and the chance at a better seed. Durant doesn't seem to be too mad at Kyrie though, as he told Yahoo Sports.
“Of course,” Durant said. “I would love for him to play more. Life is way more important to me than that. I can’t be pissed off. I can’t end the friendship based on something like that. Our friendship is based off who we are as human beings. The basketball adds to it. If we don’t get along on the basketball court, we can easily talk it out as friends.”
He yelled 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 as Durant had to carry a heavy load. Initially, the Nets banished Irving, not allowing him to play road games until attrition hit the team around the new year.
“Yeah, yeah. Him not being around, wanting to be around,” Durant told Yahoo Sports. “Having conversations, missing games, missing playing together. It was not much more I could do. It was out of my control. The best I could do was come to work and be me and make sure the situation in the building was right for everybody.”
“I would be mad after a game, not having him out there,” Durant told Yahoo Sports. “Being triple-teamed or whatever, like Kai would definitely help tonight, but [mad at] him individually? Nah.”
Irving himself spoke about possibly having been a distraction for his team during the season, and the fact that he has played less than 30 games in 2 of the last 3 seasons is something he will want to rectify since he seems committed to staying. Kevin Durant may not be angry with his co-star right now, but if they have another season of playoff disappointment of this sort, then there's no telling how either of the stars might start to feel towards one another.