Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving is one of the most polarizing figures in sports. He was drafted number one overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2011 NBA Draft, despite barely playing at all in his lone season at Duke due to injury.
Since then he has made multiple All-Star appearances and even won the All-Star Game Most Valuable Player award in 2014. Kyrie is mostly known for hitting what is widely recognized as the most clutch shot in NBA history, after making the go-ahead three to complete a 3-1 comeback against the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals.
The latest Nets news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Nets newsletter here!
Kevin Durant Speaks Out on Kyrie’s Alleged Locker Room Issues
Last season was perhaps the most tumultuous of Irving’s career. He started out the season by refusing to address the media and had several unexplained absences over the course of the year. Irving’s All-Star teammate Kevin Durant says his actions don’t affect the Nets as long as he comes prepared to ball out on game day.
“What Kyrie (Irving) does, especially in our building, nobody is making a big deal out of it,” Durant said during a recent appearance on Chips with Draymond Green.
“Just like a lot of s*** we did in our building, we didn’t give a f*** if Klay (Thompson) missed practice. As long as you’re there for the games — Everybody is mature enough to understand like we come to work, we handle our business and you be who you are.”
Follow the Heavy on Nets Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content out of Brooklyn!
Kevin Durant Explains Why People ‘Don’t Like’ Kyrie
Despite all that Irving has accomplished, he still has a tendency to leave a sour taste in some people’s mouths as he is one of the most widely criticized players in the league by both fans and members of the media. Durant says that people’s disdain for Irving comes from nothing other than the fact that he has chosen to leave his past franchises to play elsewhere.
“I just think people don’t like Kyrie because he wanted to leave Cleveland and he wanted to leave Boston. I don’t think it’s even deeper than that,” Durant continued.
“He doesn’t harm anyone. He hasn’t said anything that’s disrespectful to anybody. His game is beautiful to watch. I just think that people don’t like the decisions on where he chooses to play and they sort of amplify everything — When you’re that good at what you do, everything is a little amplified. Sometimes it’s a little extra.”
James Harden Sends High Praise to Kyrie Irving
Durant is spot on in his notion that when someone is as talented at something as Irving is at basketball, the extra baggage that comes with it is worth the price of admission. Even after just one season playing with Kyrie, the Nets newest star James Harden is ready to declare him one of the most skilled players of all-time.
“He’s just one of the most skilled players I’ve ever seen,” Harden said per Michael Shapiro of Sports Illustrated. “The things he can do with the basketball, the way he can score from anywhere on the court, playing with a guy like him makes my job a lot easier. I can just go out there and be a playmaker and score when they actually need me to score.”
Last year Irving became just the ninth player in NBA history to shoot 50% from the field, 40% from three, and 90% from the free throw line. Even if Irving is a lot to deal with, he more than makes up for it with his play on the court.