Kyrie Irving believes the Warriors shouldn't have played Kevin Durant in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.
During the Nets' media day on Friday, Irving addressed Durant's Achilles injury that he sustained during June's Finals game.
"Naturally I think you have to go inside the mind of a competitor and realize that a lot of people having responsibilities for why that ended up happening the way it happened on a national scale. We all know [Durant] was not ready to play in that environment," Irving said. "He was out 31 days and we put him on a national stage in the Finals to end up selling a product that came before the person Kevin. And now I'm here to protect that."
Durant will miss the entire 2019-20 season recovering from a ruptured Achilles. Irving called Durant an "integral" part of the Nets and said the team will be patient and not expect Durant to return before he's "101% healthy."
Durant's playoff injury woes started during the Western Conference Finals when he suffered a right calf strain against the Rockets on May 8. He didn't return to the court until June 10 for Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Raptors, when he went down during the second quarter with a ruptured Achilles. After having surgery to repair the injury, Durant signed a four-year, $164 million deal with the Nets as a free agent. Irving, who originally planned to re-sign with the Celtics, also signed a four-year, $141 million contract with Brooklyn this summer.
When asked on Friday how seriously he considered re-signing with the Warriors or going to another team like the Knicks, Durant said he "thought about it for a couple of seconds" before landing on the Nets.