Kevin Durant on Kyrie Irving: ‘I Can Really Appreciate What He Did’

“I think Kyrie just wanted a place where he can focus on just playing basketball.”
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Kevin Durant went on the Bill Simmons Podcast Friday and offered his support for Kyrie Irving, whose decision to push for a trade and the resulting move to the Boston Celtics has shaken up the league’s landscape.

Durant said he saw similarities between Irving’s move and the one he made last summer, when Durant left the Oklahoma City Thunder to join the Golden State Warriors.

“He did what he was supposed to do in Cleveland. It's on to the next chapter," Durant said of Irving. “I can really appreciate what he did. He stood up for himself. He showed a lot of courage, man, because it's hard to take that type of criticism. When you just want to play ball. I feel him on that.”

Durant added that he thought Irving sought some respite from the additional commotion that tends to swirl around LeBron James–led teams. “I think Kyrie just wanted a place where he can focus on just playing basketball and not worrying about the other drama that comes with,” he said.

“When you're around LeBron James, there's so much that comes with that. Outside distractions and conversations and just noise that just comes around, just from being around LeBron James. And Kyrie was at the point, like, 'All right, we lost the championship. This whole season's gonna be about if LeBron's gonna leave or not. I'm ready for a new challenge.' All that stuff kind of met at the pinnacle of why he wanted to leave.”

Irving takes his 25.2 points per game to Boston this season, with Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and Brooklyn’s unprotected 2018 first-rounder returning to Cleveland.

The Cavs and Celtics play on opening night, Oct. 17.