Newest Dallas Maverick Kyrie Irving could have anticipated many of the questions that would be thrown his way following his debut with his new franchise. What was it like playing with new teammates? How many plays did you learn before taking the court? How has your relationship with head coach Jason Kidd been so far?
One that he probably didn't expect: What are your thoughts on Kevin Durant being traded to the Phoenix Suns?
During his press conference following the Mavericks' 110-104 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday, Irving was asked to react in real-time to his former Brooklyn Nets teammate and close friend being sent to Phoenix in exchange for a massive haul of young players and draft picks. Irving, who was dealt to the Mavericks on Sunday after requesting a trade from the Nets, first discussed the camaraderie he feels toward Durant, even as opponents. He also said he's happy that Durant, who asked for a trade from the Nets for the second time in less than a year, got what he wanted.
"We had a lot of conversations throughout the year of, you know, what our future is going to look like. There was still a level of uncertainty," Irving said on Wednesday night. "But, we just cared about seeing each other be places that we can thrive, and whether that be together, whether that be apart, there's never been one moment where I've felt like he's been angry at me for decisions I've made or I've been angry at him. We just tried to understand each other a lot better and grow as human beings, grow as brothers.
"This business changes so quickly. He's getting a little bit older. I'm getting a little bit older. I just love the competition now that we can be in the same conference and I welcome all that. Get to see him a little bit more, probably playing against Phoenix a lot more. That's what I'm looking forward to. Everything else in between, I'm just glad that he got out of there."
Irving also said that the turmoil in Brooklyn started long before this season -- in fact, it began after the first year of he and Durant's tenure with the Nets back in 2019-20.
"I think this was in the works, like, after year one. I wasn't sure about whether or not I wanted to be in Brooklyn long term, again, because of things that was happening behind the scenes," Irving said. "I just did my best to put my head down and work as hard as I could. There were some unfortunate circumstances that came up there that were out of my control. Whether it be the mandate with the vaccine or missing games, me suspended or, you know, just little things that I think, you know, just put just wrenches in our journey."
While seeing Durant, Irving and former teammate James Harden on the floor together tantalized the basketball world in small samples, ultimately the era will go down as a failure now that all three superstars are with different franchises, with just one playoff series win to show for it.
"We played very limited time together, and a lot of injuries and things that took place. I would have liked to see that work for the long term," Irving said of his partnership with Durant and Harden. "But there are no mistakes, no coincidences. I'm happy that I could look back on that journey and reflect and say I learned a lot of things from those guys and my teammates in Brooklyn."
Kyrie Irving on Kevin Durant getting traded to the Suns pic.twitter.com/hLfnhWOOYg— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) February 9, 2023
Irving, Durant and Harden played just 14 games together during the regular season and playoffs combined during their time in Brooklyn. Now separated, Irving's Mavericks, Harden's Philadelphia 76ers and Durant's Suns are all expected to contend for the NBA title this season.