The superstar trio of James Harden, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving was expected to be the NBA’s next great dynasty when they joined forces on the Brooklyn Nets. Together the trio had over 25 NBA All-Star appearances and 19 All-NBA selections, decorated as one of the best star tandems in NBA history. But where they did differ in their list of accolades was their championships. Combined Durant and Irving had 7 NBA Finals appearances. Irving won a title in 2016 and Durant followed him up with two of his own after defeating his Cleveland Cavaliers in 2017 and 2018, winning Finals MVP both times. Harden on the other hand is still looking to win his first title.
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Kevin Durant Opens up on James Harden Departure to Sixers
The Nets came into this year’s training camp with championship aspirations. But the New York City vaccination mandate and an MCL injury to Durant caused Brooklyn’s road to a title to take a major detour. Durant believes that the turmoil of the Nets season combined with Harden’s motivation to win his first title ultimately led to the All-NBA guard’s departure.
“You try and look at it from his perspective, look up, and Kai’s [Kyrie Irving] not playing, and then I’m injured. He hasn’t won a championship before … he’s 32 years old. Looking at himself, wanted to make a decision to get on a team that can kind of get him to that … one of the last teams standing,” Durant told reporters after the Nets win over the Charlotte Hornets per Bleacher Report.
Harden’s lone trip to the NBA Finals came when he was teammates with Durant on the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012 where they fell to LeBron James and the Miami Heat in five games. He has come close a few times but has not returned to the Finals since. With Sixers star Joel Embiid playing some of the basketball of his career this season, Harden decided that Philadelphia gave him the best chance to reach the mountain top.
“You look at it from his perspective and just say ‘it is what it is.’ You can’t really control how somebody feels when they’re thinking like that,” Durant continued.”Hopefully he stays healthy, and their team stays healthy, and we stay healthy, and we have a great year, they have a great year, and we can just move from this, you know?”
Durant Sounds off on Kyrie’s Big Night
The Nets are seemingly back to square one with Durant, Irving, and a myriad of serviceable role players that space the floor and allow the two All-Stars room to operate. That was on full display in the Nets’ win over the Hornets on Tuesday night as Irving dropped 50 points in the contest. Durant was in awe of his performance.
“It’s pure. Everything he does is pure. It looked so easy tonight. I look up and he got 10 points, and it felt like he only took two shots in the first quarter,” Durant said of Irving’s performance per SNY.
“I told Seth [Curry], “damn, I didn’t know he had it cooking like that.” I have seen it in his eyes to start the game. He wanted to play better than last game so he came out here tonight and wanted to impact the game from the start. He led us all night.”
With the Nets still fighting to secure a spot in the play-in, they will need more big performances from Irving. They have a big test coming up in Philadelphia on Thursday night.