Kevin Durant has captured gold. Now it’s time for the Brooklyn Nets star to once again turn friends into enemies, delivering a warning to a certain Eastern Conference counterpart — more specifically, Team USA teammate Jayson Tatum and assistant coach Ime Udoka.
During the medal ceremony in the Tokyo Olympics, Durant celebrated with new Nets teammate Patty Mills, who recently signed a two-year, $12 million contract to join Brooklyn, despite long-rumored interest from the Celtics.
Following Mills’ 42-point performance to help Australia cruise to a bronze medal finish, Durant pulled out his phone alongside Udoka, who was recently named Boston’s new coach. Mills charged into the shot, jokingly pushing Udoka out of the picture. From there, the playful trash-talking ensued.
Off-camera, Tatum added his two cents to Durant’s warning, telling the two-time NBA Champion to “f*** outta here.” As for Udoka, the long-time Spurs assistant doesn’t sound too fazed about Durant’s new running-mate in Brooklyn. The first-year head coach noted “we know how to lock Patty a** up though,” likely pointing towards his seven years of working with Mills in San Antonio, as well as limiting the sharpshooter to just 15 points in Team USA’s victory over Australia earlier in the tournament.
Warning: This video contains NSFW language
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Durant Shares Throwback Picture With Tatum
Durant was undoubtedly a major catalyst in Team USA’s ability to notch their fourth-straight Olympic gold medal. With that said, Tatum’s budding development into one of the nation’s most elite talents was also on full display, averaging 20.5 points per game and shooting 44% from beyond the arc.
Durant paid a little homage to Tatum and his growth over the years on a recent Instagram story, while still finding the time to take a slight jab at himself, as captured by Celtics.com’s Taylor Snow.
Durant Has Huge Respect for Tatum’s Game
While Durant’s Nets may have bested Tatum’s Celtics in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs this past season, the latter’s efforts certainly didn’t go unnoticed. The two-time All-Star averaged 30.6 points per game in the series, including a 50-point performance in Game 3. Following the completion of the series, Durant took to his podcast, The ETCs with Kevin Durant, to share some lofty praise for Tatum.
“I’ve been in the league for 13, 14 years, and I started to tally mark matchups and series and the players I’ve played against,” Durant said. “When I have conversations with my friends I’m like ‘Oh, I’ve had playoff series against Kobe, LeBron, Tim Duncan, the Memphis Grizzlies,’ like — Jayson Tatum is in that conversation now because he’s that elite level of player already at 23 and I’m like ‘Alright, I can see where this is going.’”
The Celtics are coming off the heels of a highly disappointing 2020-21 campaign. Cumulative up-and-down play, as well as injuries to Jaylen Brown and the now-exited Kemba Walker, played a major role in the team finishing with a mere .500 record and a seventh-place finish in the East. With that said, Durant knows that a player of Tatum’s prowess can only be held down for so long.
“I hate that we’re in the same conference,” he said, alluding to Tatum. “‘Cause I know as he starts to get older and their team, you know, we’re going to be battling with them year in and year out.”