Kyrie Irving after Mavs debut: ‘I’m just glad [Durant] got out of there’

Kyrie Irving after Mavs debut: ‘I’m just glad [Durant] got out of there’

Kyrie Irving had a dream debut for the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday, scoring 24 points en route to a 110-104 win over the LA Clippers, but his impressive performance was quickly overshadowed by the earth-shattering news that the Brooklyn Nets had agreed to trade his former teammate Kevin Durant to the Phoenix Suns.

Following the game, Irving was asked how it felt being in the same conference as Durant, to which he gave a long-winded answer on his relationship with the 13-time All-Star.

“It’s not the first time we’ll be in competition as brothers,” Irving told reporters. “I’m just praying for his happiness, praying for his well-being. We had a lot of conversations throughout the year of what our futures were going to look like. There was still a level of uncertainty.

“But we just cared about seeing each other in places that we can thrive, whether that be together or apart. There’s never been one moment where I felt like he’s been angry at me for decisions I’ve made, or I’ve been angry at him. We’ve just tried to understand each other a lot better and grow as human beings and grow as brothers.

“This business changes so quickly, and he’s getting a little bit older — I’m getting a little bit older — and I love the competition now that we can be in the same conference,” Irving continued. “I welcome all of that. I get to see him a little bit more since I’m sure we’ll be playing Phoenix a lot more, so that’s what I’m looking forward to.

“Everything else in between, I’m just glad he got out of there.”

One might think that Irving’s trade request was the motivating factor behind Durant’s trade, but according to Irving, he and Durant had been planning their exits since after their first season together in 2021.

“I wasn’t sure about whether or not I wanted to be in Brooklyn long-term after some things that happened behind the scenes,” Irving said. “I did my best to put my head down and work as hard as I could. There was some unfortunate circumstances up there that were out of my control, whether it be the mandate with the vaccine or missing games due to suspensions, that I think just put wrenches in our journey.”

Irving also defended the Nets’ failed “Big 3” experiment with James Harden, citing the lack of games they played together.

“I would have liked to see that work for the long-term, but there are no mistakes and no coincidences,” Irving said. “You’ve got to move forward.”

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