Kevin Durant doesn't believe the Golden State Warriors are a better team without him.
Speaking to reporters for the first time since he suffered a calf injury on May 8, Durant disputed the idea that his team plays better without him, simply stating, "That's not facts. Durant also argued against the notion that he's still not part of the Warriors' collective group.
"It's been that way since I got here," Durant said. "It's been that way since I got here—'It's the Warriors and KD.' I understand that, and I felt like my teammates and the organization know exactly what I've done here off and on the court to become a part of this culture, stamp my flag in this culture and this organization. ... I know what I bring to the team, but I also know a lot of people on the outside don't like to see us together, and I get it."
The Warriors have won five consecutive games without him, including the series clincher on the road against the Houston Rockets and a sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference finals.
When asked by a reporter how "their" play has been, in regard to how his teammates have picked up the slack in his absence, Durant responded with, "Our play?" The two-time Finals MVP added that he's noticed the storylines about the Warriors being better without him.
"It's hard to get away from that because I watch the game, and you watch the lead-up to the games, and that's all everybody is talking about," Durant said. "My perspective is just, like, I want to focus on rehab, but I also want to be a fan of my teammates. I want to enjoy my teammates from a different view. A lot of those guys sit in a chair and cheer for the rest of the guys, the starting guys, and now I get an opportunity to do the same thing. I turn on the TV, and since I can't travel with the team, all I hear is the noise.
"As a player, I think about that—I'm just like, that's not true," Durant continued. "That's not facts when it comes from a basketball perspective. The competitive side of me—I also like to talk basketball as well—so if you're going to say something like that, I'm going to engage in it. So it's all fun, it's all cool, but I know the real."
Golden State announced on Thursday that Durant is unlikely to play in Game 1 of the NBA Finals but remains hopeful he could return during the series.