The high-profile NBA All-Stars were among the first reported free-agent signings on June 30, later made official in early July, and was even more buzz worthy due to interest by the New York Knicks in both stars.
This would also mark each athlete’s first noteworthy public appearance since the conclusion of the 2018-19 NBA season, which ended in disappointment for both of them.
Irving led the Boston Celtics – whom many picked to be an NBA Finals contender if not champion prior to last season – to an underwhelming regular season that later saw them lose to the Milwaukee Bucks in round two of the playoffs in embarrassing fashion.
Durant tore his Achilles in the NBA Finals, which will sideline him for much of the 2019-20 season.
“With Kevin, the expectations are that he'll be out for the year,” Nets general manager Sean Marks said earlier in the week. “I've been excited to see how he's approached his rehab, which has been great, very refreshing and energizing for the whole group.
But at the end of the day, this is a long-term plan here,” he continued. “This was never about this next season. This is about getting an elite athlete back to elite physical shape on the court, whatever that takes.”
“It’s been amazing,” Durant said of his short tenure with Brooklyn to this point. “It’s been a lot of support, especially going through rehab. That’s all I really wanted until this point.”
Durant also mentioned his close relationship with Irving, which was a leading factor in wanting to be teammates.
“I’ve followed him since high school,” Durant said. “It’s very rare that we could meet up at this point and have a decision in front of us where we could control our destiny. This is the perfect spot for us to hone our skills and continue to keep growing.”
And on his decision to choose Brooklyn, KD insists it was “easy.”
“It was easy to see what these guys brought to the table, just watching the games and seeing the continuity throughout the last couple years,” Durant said. “It’s pretty easy to figure out what kind of team and what kind of organization it is.”
Irving acknowledged that Spencer Dinwiddie’s recruitment was also a factor. The two are good friends off the court as well.
“I definitely have unique relationships across the league, and me and Spencer’s relationship went far beyond the court,” he said. “We got to know one another at All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles in 2018.
“We ended up hanging out,” Irving added. “We didn’t talk too much about free agency, but we’ve had a relationship that we developed from then on.”
Regarding DeAndre Jordan, who also signed with Brooklyn and is great friends with Durant, Irving said the three were texting at 4:16 a.m. the morning before agreeing to terms with Brooklyn.
“It was us just talking about our futures and how this opportunity ahead of us is something that we haven’t had in our careers,” he said. “The ability to make a choice, sitting down and actually talking in detail about our futures, and the investment we’ve had in one another and the ability to invest in Brooklyn.
Brooklyn made us feel like all-stars,” Irving added.