Kyrie Irving

Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving sending mixed messages on Warriors experience

Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving sending mixed messages on Warriors experience

The world on Friday was given its first glimpse of the friendship between Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Both spoke during Nets Media Day in Brooklyn and well, they were spreading very different messages.

Durant took sole responsibility for his return to the court for Game 5 of the NBA Finals, during which he sustained a torn right Achilles’ tendon.

Speaking before KD, Irving basically waved off that notion and pointed fingers elsewhere.

Whether this was a coordinated plot or two friends expressing diametrically different opinions, it’s enough to suggest there will be drama among the Nets – just as it was last season when the two men were on different teams, Durant with the Warriors and Irving with the Celtics.

Addressing a mass audience for the first time since May, Durant was informed of Irving’s comments and still reiterated his previous statements related to his final weeks with the Warriors, specifically decisions made regarding his return for Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Raptors in Toronto, when he sustained a torn right Achilles early in the second quarter.

“When I went down, it felt like everybody wanted to put their arms of protection around me, from people I didn’t know, to my best friend, Kyrie,” he said. “I feel like everybody was real protective of me around this time. And I feel like they will continue to be that way, especially involving my health.

“But I make my own decisions.”

Durant’s new teammate had gone the other way. Asked about Durant’s possible availability this season in Brooklyn – one he is expected to miss while rehabbing – Kyrie insinuated KD isn’t telling the whole truth about his time with the Warriors and his return in The Finals.

“We all know K wasn’t ready to play in that environment,” Irving said. “We all know that, whether people want to admit it or not. He was out 31 days and we put him on a national stage in The Finals to end up selling a product that came before the person, Kevin.

“And now I’m here to protect that. I’m going to be a protector of that all throughout the year and not allow anyone to infiltrate that circle. ‘Hey, K, do you. Get right. We’ll be fine.’ We have expectations for our team. We obviously know he’s an integral part. But we’ll wait for that. I’m, very patient. I’m going to be over-patient with Kevin because I don’t want anything like that to happen to anyone again, especially on that type of stage, with him having to answer questions about whether or not he’s coming back.

“I’m here to dispel that. You’ll never hear me say ‘He’s coming back here.’ ‘I think he’s coming.’ I want him to be 101 percent healthy.”

Irving, in essence, contended that KD was a commodity being exploited by larger forces and that his return was dictated by others.

How juicy. But it’s Kyrie, who has a reputation for developing his own theories that sometimes deviate from conventional wisdom and even fact. Was he blaming the NBA? The Warriors? Coach Steve Kerr and his staff? The players? The front office? Dr. Rick Celebrini, the team’s medical/training chief?

If any of these components were Irving’s target, he missed.

All updates on Durant in the wake of his initial injury, described as a right calf strain, were met with vague responses from all parties employed by the Warriors. Kerr consistently said he had no idea when, or if, KD would return. The media relations staff issued weekly updates but never once projected a timetable.

It wasn’t until the afternoon of June 10, hours before tipoff of Game 5, that it was confirmed KD would make his return.

Durant, in an interview with Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes last month, backhanded the idea of the Warriors pressuring him to return.

“Hell no,” he said. “How can you blame them? Hell no,” he said. “I heard the Warriors pressured me into getting back. Nobody never said a word to me during rehab as I was coming back. It was only me and Rick working out every day.

Durant said he targeted Game 5, adding that there are risks to playing basketball and nobody was responsible for the injury.

“We just need to move on from that (expletive),” he said.

[RELATED: Why last year's Warriors team reminded Kerr of '98 Bulls]

Irving surely was aware of these comments but clearly has not moved on.

The world eventually will know if the comments Friday exposed a fissure in the Durant-Irving friendship. Or if Irving went off-script. Or if both men actually planned this dissonance, Kyrie embracing the role of the heavy and shielding his friend from more of the scrutiny he detests.

Kevin Durant thought about Warriors return for 'a couple seconds'

Kevin Durant thought about Warriors return for 'a couple seconds'

Kevin Durant is finally on the record.

The former Warriors star has stayed out of the spotlight this offseason, as he continues to recover from an Achilles tear suffered in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals.

Friday morning was Media Day for the Brooklyn Nets -- KD’s new employer -- and the two-time NBA champion spoke about why he opted to leave the Warriors and sign with Brooklyn.

"I felt like it was time for a change. I wanted to play for a new team and simply put, I just did it," Durant said. “I didn't really think about what I was leaving behind or what we accomplished. I put that up on the shelf already, and when it was time to make a decision on my future, I thought solely about me."

Durant also was asked about what went into his decision-making process in free agency, and the 30-year-old said it didn’t take long.

[RELATED: Klay tried to recruit KD back to Warriors with one message]

His former teammates have all been vocally supportive of Durant this offseason since he announced his departure, but KD’s newest superstar teammate Kyrie Irving wasn’t shy about criticizing Golden State for the events surrounding Durant's injury.

We’ll see if any of the Warriors have a response to the comments from Brooklyn, as they will host Media Day on Monday for the first time from Chase Center.

Kyrie Irving takes shot at Warriors for handling of Kevin Durant's injury

Kyrie Irving takes shot at Warriors for handling of Kevin Durant's injury

When Kevin Durant went down with a ruptured Achilles in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, the blame game started.

Was Durant ready to come back? Did the Warriors push him to return before he was ready? Was it just bad luck?

While Durant has said it wasn't the Warriors' fault that he tore his Achilles, his new Brooklyn Nets teammate and best friend Kyrie Irving thinks a little differently.

On Friday during Nets Media Day, Irving was asked about his relationship with Durant, the star forward's rehab and when the Nets might expect him back. The All-Star guard took the opportunity to take a swipe at the Warriors and how they handled Durant's injury.

"I think you have to go inside the mind of a competitor," Irving said. "A lot of people have responsibilities for why that ended up happening how it happened on a national scale. We all know [Kevin] was not ready to play in that environment. We all know that. Whether people want to admit it or not. He was out 31 days and we put him on a national stage on The Finals to end up selling a product that came before the person, Kevin. And now, I'm here to protect that. I'm going to be the protector of that all throughout the year, and not allowing anyone to infiltrate that circle of, 'Hey K, do you. We'll be fine.'

"I'm very patient. I'm going to be over patient with Kevin because I don't want anything like that to happen ever again, especially on that type of stage where it happens and then he's having to answer questions about when 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."

Durant followed Irving at Media Day and once again shouldered the blame for what happened.

"I make my own decisions," Durant said.

Irving and Durant are, as stated, best friends, so it's curious that Irving would say that without getting an inkling from Durant that he felt the Warriors mishandled the initial injury.

Of course, Irving has been known to riff about all things known to man on a whim, so there's a high probability this is just Kyrie being Kyrie.

[RELATED: Durant's injury sparks blame game]

Durant had a historic run with the Warriors, but it didn't have a storybook ending.

The duo now must get to work building what they envision will be a dynasty in Brooklyn.

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