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#pounditSunday, September 20, 2020

Kyrie Irving says he will ‘protect’ Kevin Durant from returning too soon again

Kyrie Irving

Kevin Durant may have gotten some bad advice and given into external pressure when he decided to play in the NBA Finals last year, but Kyrie Irving says he will not allow that to happen again with the Brooklyn Nets.

Irving told reporters on Friday that it is obvious Durant wasn’t ready to return from his calf injury in the Finals, which led to a torn Achilles. Kyrie says he is going to hold himself personally responsible for making sure Durant is “101 percent ready” before he takes the court with the Nets.

“We all know (Durant) was not ready to play in that environment,” Irving said. “We all know that, whether people want to admit it or not. 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.

“I’m here to protect that. I’m going to be a protector of that all throughout the year in not allowing anyone to infiltrate that circle of, ‘Hey, (Kevin), do you. Get right. We’ll be fine.’ We have expectations for our team and obviously know he’s an integral part, but we’ll wait for that. I’ll be over-patient with Kevin.”

That may sound egotistical of Irving to say, but it’s worth noting that Durant referred to him once again as his “best friend” on Friday. Durant obviously cares a great deal about Kyrie’s opinion, so perhaps it will help to have a teammate who urges patience. There were rumblings earlier in the week that Durant may return earlier than expected from his Achilles injury, but the Nets say they do not plan on him playing this season.

Some comments Durant made publicly indicate he does not blame the Golden State Warriors for what happened to him, but his “best friend” Irving feels differently. It’s fair to assume what Durant has said about the situation privately probably does not match with what he said in public.

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