Warriors

Warriors

A YES Network camera caught Kevin Durant in a unique position Friday morning. He was standing on a Brooklyn rooftop, clad in Nets gear, with the Lower Manhattan skyline in the background.

Durant, participating in his first career media day on the East Coast was being instructed to spread his hands as a drone camera flew above, capturing footage for the team's digital department. 

The visual evoked a deeper meaning for Durant. After three years in the Bay Area -- where Durant joined an already star-studded team with the Warriors -- he finally has a city to call his own, coupled with a franchise he can potentially groom into a champion. 

The plan, according to Durant, started in a late-night pow-wow that included future teammates Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan -- two of Durant's closest friends -- contemplating their futures. 

"We was just like are we ready to do it?'" Durant recalled Friday during his first press conference in Brooklyn. "And we was like 'yeah.' It was really that simple." 

Since leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder four years ago, Durant longed to be a part of a team that doubled as a family extension. He didn't find that in Golden State and now -- with two of his best friends -- he'll try once more to achieve that goal. 

"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."

 

In Brooklyn, Durant and Irving are in the final steps of a longstanding overhaul for the Nets.

Six years ago, Brooklyn mortgaged years worth of first-round draft picks to the Boston Celtics in exchange for aging stars Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to pair with guard Deron Williams. The gamble failed, as the Nets have made the second round of the playoffs only once in the past 12 seasons. Worse, with most of its first-round picks owned by the Celtics, the team had little assets to get better. Still, under the tutelage of coach Kenny Atkinson, the Nets became one of the most intriguing teams in the league, including a playoff run last season, catching the eyes of Irving and Durant. 

Over the years, Jordan, Irving and Durant have built a strong bond. They won Olympic Gold medals together, shared vacation itineraries and ultimately made a pact to play together. 

"This opportunity ahead of us is something we haven't had in our careers," Irving said. "The ability to make a choice, sitting down, actually talking in detail about the future and the investment we had in one another and the investment we have in Brooklyn. It made sense all the way around." 

Friday morning's media day turns the page on a tumultuous year for Durant. For much of last season in Golden State, he battled the perception he was plotting a Bay Area escape. He called out journalists, argued with teammates on the sidelines and complained that TV pundits were concerned with his mental health than his basketball performance. Above all, Durant was searching to be ingrained into the family dynamic during his Bay Area stay. 

“I came in there wanting to be part of a group, wanting to be part of a family, and definitely felt accepted,” Durant told the Wall Street Journal last month. “But I’ll never be one of those guys." 

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Now, with Irving and Jordan, Durant has a chance to build his own family, with a world-renowned metropolis behind him. 

"We're here to build," Irving said. "We're not saying we're a championship team right now. We're not gonna say 'this is what we're going to be going forward.' We're just here to observe one another, care for one another and to be here enjoy playing basketball."