In his first healthy season with the Brooklyn Nets, Kevin Durant is playing alongside a pair of superstars in Kyrie Irving and James Harden. It’s nothing new for Durant: He played on a bona-fide superteam in Golden State for three seasons from 2016-19. Before that, he was a member of two separate Team USA squads that won Olympic gold medals in 2012 and 2016. Those teams were composed only of stars.
It was then, as part of that talent-infused roster, that Durant had a chance to play under Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who has coached Team USA to three Olympic gold medals. It was then, through Krzyzewski’s teachings, that he learned the importance of keeping egos in check.
Coach K’s advice to Durant years ago is paying big dividends for the Nets now.
“I remember those conversations you [Coach K] would have with us and telling us, ‘You guys have egos and it’s good to have egos. We need you to bring that to the team. But at certain moments, certain guys are going to shine more than others,” Durant recalled to Krzyzewski on Thursday while making an appearance on SiriusXM’s “Basketball and Beyond with Coach K” show, via Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “And that always stood out to me.”
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Durant Sees Brooklyn’s Big Three Beginning To Feed off Each Other
Forbidding egos to run wild is a good thing. But overcompensating with too much passiveness can backfire.
The Nets are actively working on finding the balance.
“When you [take] a player that accomplished so much and experienced so much and you put them on one NBA team [with other superstars] — I dealt with that with the Warriors, as well — it’s like we can be too unselfish to the point that it’ll hurt the team,” Durant told Coach K.
Durant said he saw some of that from the Nets in the first few games after they traded for Harden on Jan. 16.
“Coach [Steve Nash] will figure out what times, when you’re going to use guys, what plays to run and all that stuff. But we need everybody to be themselves,” Durant said. “Early on, James was passing too much, I felt like, and then he started to be aggressive to score. Then Kyrie, the same way. And now we’re starting to feed off each other.”
Durant, Harden & Irving Are Holding Each Other Accountable
Durant currently leads All-Star fan voting with 2,302,705 votes. Irving and Harden are doing pretty well themselves, with the second- and third-highest fan vote totals for guards in the Eastern Conference, respectively.
Together, the Nets’ Big Three is averaging 83.2 points per game. Brooklyn is 14-9 on the season and 7-3 since acquiring Harden.
“It’s incredible having high-IQ guys out there with you every night that have been through every situation in the league team-wise and individual-wise,” Durant said to Krzyzewski. “It makes every single day, with less practice time, less shoot-around time, it makes it easier to go through and correct yourself throughout the games.
“We hold each other accountable each time we see something. So having that relationship and playing with each other over the years and, you know, sharing the same experiences, it made it easier for us to come together and transition.”