Thanks to their stunning acquisitions of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the Brooklyn Nets are NBA’s latest super team.
The two stars share a combined 16 All-Star selections, 11 All-NBA selections and three NBA championships. Three years ago, the idea of Durant and Irving teaming up—in Brooklyn, no less—would’ve seemed improbable. Yet here we are. However, if you go back to training camp for the 2016 U.S. men’s Olympic basketball team, there were some signs that the two might one day join forces.
The training camp took place in July on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Weeks earlier, Irving and the Cleveland Cavaliers had vanquished the Golden State Warriors in unforgettable fashion to deliver the franchise its first championship. Shortly thereafter, Durant shocked the NBA world by joining an already-stacked Warriors team. At an open media session during training camp, STACK asked Irving which Olympic teammate he enjoyed playing with the most. There was no shortage of talent to pick from, as the roster included guys like Paul George, Jimmy Butler, DeMarcus Cousins and—interestingly enough—DeAndre Jordan, who is also joining the Nets. But perhaps surprisingly, Irving named Durant:
“I mean, he’s Kevin Durant. He is who he is. What’s crazy is me and him have an unbelievable connection through a few people. I’d seen how beautiful his game is as a player, but I’d heard he was an even better person. I’m looking forward to the chance to get to know him as a person,” Irving said.
Throughout the practice that followed the media session, Kyrie and KD were attached at the hip. The two followed each other throughout all the shooting drills, competing in epic games of one-upmanship. Team USA went on to win the gold medal at the Rio Olympics, with Durant leading the squad in points, and Irving leading in assists.
The following season, the Warriors defeated the Cavs in the NBA Finals, with Durant claiming NBA Finals MVP honors. Irving then requested a trade and wound up in Boston. Durant won another ring with the Warriors in 2018.
Howard Beck of Bleacher Report reports that Durant and Irving actually decided they would team up for the 2019-2020 NBA season and beyond last summer. During the 2019 All-Star Game in Charlotte, Irving and Durant looked like best buddies:
It’s all one heck of a story, and the seeds of this gravity-shifting turn of events very well may have been planted in the Nevada desert three years ago.