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Kevin Durant says Kyrie Irving trade was ‘tough to stomach’ in first press conference with Suns

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Less than two weeks ago, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were both members of the Brooklyn Nets. Now, they’re both starting new chapters with entirely new organizations.

In the space of three days, the Nets traded Irving to the Mavericks and Durant to the Suns. What was once a vaunted “big three” of Irving, Durant and James Harden has now been completely dismantled. The rapid disintegration of Brooklyn’s talented core has stunned the NBA world and left Nets fans wondering how and why things fell apart.

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On Thursday, Durant shared his thoughts on what was taking place inside Brooklyn’s locker room. In his introductory press conference as a member of the Suns, Durant said Irving’s departure hit him and the rest of the team hard. 

“I was upset we couldn’t finish [what we started],” he told the media. “I thought we had some good momentum. We were finally building the culture that we always wanted. I felt like every game we were building our chemistry.”

He said he wasn’t aware of Irving’s desire to leave Brooklyn before his move to Dallas.

MORE: Breaking down the fit between Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic

“I didn’t know what was going on with Kyrie and his situation with the organization,” Durant said. “I didn’t really focus on that, I only focused on what we were doing on the court. It was a blow to our team. It just took away our identity.

“He was a huge, huge part of what we do. He’s a Hall of Fame player, a great, great player that can do everything on the floor and we relied on that. So without him, we didn’t have a clear identity. So that was tough for me to stomach.”

As soon as Irving departed, it seemed almost inevitable Durant would follow. But Durant also got emotional when reflecting on the nearly four years he spent with the Nets. 

MORE: Grading the biggest deals of the NBA trade deadline, including KD, Kyrie moves

ESPN’s Nick Friedell asked how KD would sum up his time in Brooklyn. The question prompted boos from the Suns fans in attendance, but it also seemed to strike a chord with the 13-time NBA All-Star. 

“It was a lot of ups and downs, but I loved the grind,” Durant responded. “Everybody in Brooklyn loved the grind, too, so I built a family over there. They’re going to always be a part of my journey.”

“We didn’t accomplish what we wanted to accomplish as far as winning a championship,” he continued. “But everybody there, we tried our hardest every day regardless of what was going on in the media, what was going on with our teammates. Everybody who was in that gym, we grinded. So I love those guys. I get emotional talking about it because that was a special four years of my career. Coming off an Achilles [injury], they helped me through a lot.”

Durant’s heartfelt answer received applause from the audience, parts of which had booed the question just moments before. 

“Yeah, it was terrible how some stuff went down, but at the end of the day, I love the grind, and we all loved the grind there in Brooklyn,” he finished. “I wish them the best going forward. They’ve got a bright future.” 

MORE: Breaking down the biggest winners and losers of the NBA trade deadline

Now, KD will shift his focus to Phoenix, where he’ll try to win the ring that eluded him during his four years in the Big Apple. 


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