Kevin Durant may be having an MVP-type season for the Brooklyn Nets, but even he can’t be expected to compensate for the loss of a player like Kyrie Irving on a nightly basis. The team’s Friday bout with the defending-champion Bucks was a good reminder of how that can play out.
Less than two days after a returning Irving teamed up with Durant to lead Brooklyn to a comeback win over the Pacers, the Nets — sans Irving — were trounced by Milwaukee on their home floor. And it happened despite the fact that KD dropped a 29-9-7 line in the game.
In spite of the difference, Durant isn’t looking to force his teammate’s hand where getting his COVID-19 vaccination is concerned. Even if Irving not getting the poke means that he’ll be restricted to playing in road games for the foreseeable future.
“I told him how important he is, how much I want him to play every game,” Durant said after the loss. “But I’m not about to force somebody to get a vaccine, like that’s not my thing. So he can play basketball? Nah, I’m not about to do that.”
Two The Stars Have Had Conversations
Durant further elaborated on discussions he and Irving have had regarding the latter returning to full-time status. However, he’s continuing to respect his teammate’s vaccine decision.
“We’ve had conversations about wanting him to be a part of the team and conversations about him being here full-time, but that’s on his time. Whatever decision he want to make, he’s going to make. It’s on us to be professionals no matter what, and do our jobs. All of us — from the owner down to the equipment manager — so whenever he ready, he’ll be ready.”
The Association’s leading scorer also revealed that he’s not particularly worried about getting to the bottom of Irving’s thought process.
“I haven’t even asked for an explanation,” Durant said. “It ain’t my place I don’t think. So I’m ready for whatever, that’s been my whole mentality. Whatever happens in this situation, I got to still be me, still go out there and represent the way I represent. I’m supporting whatever my team needs me to do, wants to do.”
In the end, Durant is worried about himself and how he can help the team. For him, the Covid thing is an enigma and everybody is just doing what they think is right.
“It’s a weird situation, who knows? I don’t understand most of this s***,” he confessed. “Covid, all of this stuff has been crazy the last few years. So me, I just try to stay centered and focus on me. When Kyrie’s ready to make decisions for himself he will, and I trust that.”
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The Nets Have to Keep on Moving
Durant isn’t the only one who’s trying to maintain a Zen perspective where Irving is concerned. Fellow Nets star James Harden says the team just has to push forward and make the best out of whatever the situation is in any given moment.
“We got to live with what we’re dealt with and that’s home games we got to figure ways [to win],” Harden said. “And even road games — just ’cause Ky’s on the road with us don’t mean it’s going to be easy for us as well. So we got to mesh and we got to find ways to win games…”
“Every time we step on the floor teams are going at us, they feel like they got something to prove and we got to know that. And we got to bring that same mentality towards them.”
Added Durant: “We’ve been playing the majority of our games without him. We’re professionals. We’re veterans. We’re supposed to know how to adapt to some s***. We’ve been playing without him all season so one game shouldn’t throw us off like that.”