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#pounditSaturday, October 31, 2020

Kevin Durant

Report: Kevin Durant had some influence in Kenny Atkinson being pushed out

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant has not played in a game with the Brooklyn Nets and will wait until next season to debut with his new team, but the two-time NBA Finals MVP may have already played a major role in shaping the direction of the franchise.

The Nets announced on Saturday that they have mutually parted ways with Kenny Atkinson, but all indications have been that the coach was pushed out after failing to connect with his new star players. Kyrie Irving is said to have “soured” on Atkinson early on, and Durant was reportedly less than thrilled with the coach as well.

According to a new report from Shams Charania and Alex Schiffer of The Athletic, Atkinson told his players and staff after last Wednesday’s 39-point blowout loss to the Memphis Grizzlies that it was time for everyone to air their grievances. A spirited team meeting followed, and Durant spoke up about the bad habits he has seen and told the Nets they were not showing the proper traits needed to become a title contender. As The Athletic described, Durant’s lecture may have been the “most critical thing” that happened in the meeting.

Like Irving, Durant reportedly never made a connection with Atkinson. You could argue that it would be difficult for him to do that without playing, but watching from a distance may have given Durant an even better understanding of how things were going. Apparently Durant didn’t like what he saw, and The Athletic reports that there was a “growing belief that (Durant and Irving) did not have interest in playing for (Atkinson) when this team is whole again next season.”

The Nets were doing well and had improved each year under Atkinson before Durant, Irving and DeAndre Jordan arrived. It’s obvious that the dynamic changed once the superstars established themselves, and Atkinson even seemed to acknowledge that.

Now, the Nets have the difficult task of trying to find a coach who can connect with some high-maintenance stars while also developing younger players. They seemed to understand that they were taking that risk when they signed Irving.

Report: Kyrie Irving soured on Kenny Atkinson, wants Ty Lue as Nets coach

Kyrie Irving Nets

The Brooklyn Nets ushered in a new era when they signed Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant over the summer, and they are going to end up with a new coach now too.

Kenny Atkinson and the Nets announced Saturday that they have mutually parted ways during what was Atkinson’s fourth season as the team’s head coach. A report said some Nets players wanted Atkinson fired. The coach acknowledged his voice was no longer as powerful as it once was.

Yahoo’s Vincent Goodwill wrote an article on Saturday saying as much. He says Irving “soured” on Atkinson early on and wants his former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach, Ty Lue, as the Nets’ next coach. Lue is currently an assistant with the Clippers.

What the Nets had built was attractive to Durant and Irving and played a big role in convincing them to sign with the team. But the culture of the team changed from young, unproven players to one with proven All-Stars when Durant and Irving joined, and it sounds like Irving was not buying into Atkinson’s ways. That helps explain why Atkinson would have been just as agreeable to leave since he felt powerless.

So far, we’ve seen Irving force a trade away from Cleveland; blow up the team chemistry in Boston; and now get a coach fired in Brooklyn. The Nets knew adding Irving was risky. Now it’s up to Kyrie and Durant to show next season that they were worth the investment.

Viral star Thomas Snacks Lee thinks he could score on Kevin Durant

Thomas “Snacks” Lee has gone viral ever since draining a 3-pointer in Jackson State’s win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Monday night, and he’s been on the public interview tour like he won the Super Bowl.

Lee has conducted interviews with numerous local TV stations in Mississippi, been the subject of stories from us here at Larry Brown Sports, ESPN, The Athletic, and he was on TMZ Sports, Pardon My Take, and he’ll be featured on “TODAY.”

Lee is the student-manager of Jackson State’s men’s basketball team. He had been asking the coach for a chance to play, and he got into Monday night’s game late and nailed a 3-pointer, which made the fans go wild.

After scoring his first career points, Lee was named the conference’s player of the week.

Lee wore No. 35 in the game as an homage to his favorite player, Kevin Durant. He got a Twitter shoutout from Durant and is hoping to meet his favorite player.

During his interview on “Pardon My Take,” Lee expressed confidence that he would be able to serve Durant with a bucket or two in 1-on-1.

“I’m definitely scoring. I would actually like to make that happen. I think I could give him a run for his money,” Lee said/joked.

Durant needs to make this happen. Everyone on the internet would love to see the two of them together.

Here’s a video of Snacks’ story, including his viral shot:

Warriors owner says Kevin Durant leaving ‘made no sense’ to him

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant has opened up in recent months about why he left the Golden State Warriors to sign with the Brooklyn Nets last summer, but his former boss still does not understand the decision.

In an appearance on 95.7 The Game’s “Joe, Lo & Dibs” show this week, Warriors owner Joe Lacob said he was never angry about Durant deciding to leave Golden State, but the move baffled him.

“I can’t get mad when Kevin Durant, who I felt pretty close with, decides he’s going to leave,” Lacob said. “Which, to me, made no sense. Like, you’re the best organization, I hope he thinks, in the world — winning, other great players, the new Arena. To me, there was every reason in the world to stay, but I’m not going to be mad at him because it’s his life. And he earned the right and for whatever reason he decided he wanted to leave.”

Lacob probably doesn’t want to acknowledge some of the reasons Durant chose to leave, but Durant has been pretty open about them. The feud he had with Draymond Green early last season definitely played a role, and Durant recently said he felt isolated from his teammates after that.

Durant has notoriously thin skin, and he obviously didn’t like how people said he sold out by signing with a championship team to get a ring. Once Green told him the Warriors don’t need him, he probably started packing his bags.

Video: Kevin Durant looks like he’s making huge progress in Achilles rehab

Kevin Durant

It has been less than eight months since Kevin Durant underwent surgery to repair a torn Achilles, but it appears he is making excellent progress with his rehab.

There have been some videos posted on social media recently that show Durant running and putting shots up, and the latest should be extremely encouraging for Brooklyn Nets fans. Durant was running around the court, making light cuts and putting up shots with ease.

Most athletes take a full year to completely recover from an Achilles tear, and the Nets intend to give Durant more than that. They have already said he will not play at all this season, though you have to wonder if he will be healthy enough to suit up before the year ends.

Despite their 23-28 record, the Nets entered Sunday as the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference. Kyrie Irving has battled some injuries of his own this year, and we know he is not thrilled with Brooklyn’s roster. If doctors declare Durant 100 percent healthy and the Nets remain in the playoff hunt, you have to wonder if the team will be tempted at all to bring him back.

Kevin Durant shares why he left Thunder for Warriors

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant has shared his reason for leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder to join the Golden State Warriors in 2016.

Durant was a guest on the recent episode of Showtime Basketball show “All the Smoke” featuring Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson. One of the subjects that came up was Durant controversially leaving OKC for Golden State.

Durant said he left to go play with a more talented team with guys who passed the ball more and had better shooters.

“In OKC I played with a lot of athletes, I didn’t play with a lot of skilled guys, not like shooters, ball handlers. So after a while, my game started to grow, I was like ‘I need a change’. This was before the season even started. I was like I’m going to play out my season as hard as I can. I’m not telling anyone I want to leave, I’m not packing in — I’m trying to win as much as we can. That was my thinking going into the year.

“I was tired of playing in that system. I was tired of having to be the only guy that can make threes, make jumpshots — consistently make them.”

Yes, Durant wanted more help. But he went to a team where he had too much help, and that’s what bothered people.

Also, Durant’s Thunder were up 3-1 on those Warriors in the playoffs. Durant admits he knew entering the season that he wanted to join the Warriors in free agency. Maybe if he weren’t thinking like that and was hellbent on winning a championship in OKC, he would have won one that season.

Though these comments seemed new to many, we actually knew this about Durant because his burner told us three years ago.

Kevin Durant admits he started ‘isolating’ himself after Draymond Green feud

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant has admitted that his highly publicized feud with Draymond Green was a factor in his decision to leave the Golden State Warriors in free agency, and the injured Brooklyn Nets star opened up about that situation more this week.

Durant was a guest on Showtime’s “All the Smoke” with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson, and he spoke a lot about his time in Golden State and why it came to an end. Durant admitted that he was taken aback by Green’s reaction after K.D. expressed frustration with Green for not passing him the ball near the end of an eventual overtime loss to the Los Angeles Clippers last season.

Beware that the clip contains some inappropriate language.

“Then he started coming off the top with all of that stuff and I’m just thinking, Draymond is actually my friend,” Durant said. “He’s somebody I can call when I’m going through anything like, ‘Yo, come through. Let’s hang out tonight.’ For him to say that s— to me just kind of threw me for a loop. I started isolating myself after that.”

Durant was referring to Green telling him the Warriors don’t need him and won before K.D. arrived in Golden State. Durant said he took that personally since he considered Green a friend, and the Warriors chose to sweep it under the rug rather than hash things out and move forward.

“Me and him sat down and talked about it,” Durant said. “I gave him my piece and he told me how he felt about it, but it happened in front of the whole team. Everybody saw it.”

Ironically, Green is the same guy who called K.D. to deliver the opposite message after Golden State lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2016 NBA Finals. Green played a huge role in recruiting Durant to the Warriors, which is why Durant felt so betrayed when Green treated him like an outsider.

Of course, Durant also has notoriously thin skin. He’s been known to defend himself on social media and even admitted to creating a burner account to do so, so it’s no surprise he took Green’s remarks so personally.

Video: Steph Curry, Kevin Durant share big hug after game

Kevin Durant Steph Curry

Steph Curry and Kevin Durant still have plenty of love for each other.

The Brooklyn Nets beat the Golden State Warriors 129-88 on Wednesday night. Even though neither player was playing in the game due to their recovery from injuries, they still were in attendance and shared a big hug after the game.

Why wouldn’t they share a warm embrace? They made the NBA Finals in all three seasons they were teammates and won two championships. Even though Durant was the Finals MVP in both championships, Curry never seemed to be jealous and was happy winning.

Curry did have an issue with the timing of Durant’s announcement that he would be signing with the Nets in free agency, but he seems to be over it now — for good reason.

Curry has been out since suffering a hand injury in October, while Durant has not played at all this season as he recovers from a torn Achilles tendon.

Kendrick Perkins extends olive branch to Kevin Durant after Kobe Bryant’s death

Kendrick Perkins

The death of Kobe Bryant has served as a reminder to many to live life to the fullest and not waste time. That certainly appeared to be the message Kendrick Perkins took away from the death of Kobe on Sunday.

Perkins, who played in the NBA from 2003-2018, tweeted that he was “speechless” upon learning the news of Bryant’s death.

In his next tweet, Perkins sought to make up with his former teammate, Kevin Durant. Perkins extended an olive branch to Durant and asked for forgiveness.

Perkins then shared how he was drawing inspiration from Kobe to live a better life.

Just two weeks ago, Perkins and Durant engaged in a heated Twitter beef in which Perkins said Durant took the coward’s way out by joining the Golden State Warriors. Perkins got a lot of retweets, likes, and headlines for his statements, but he likely damaged his relationship with Durant, with whom he was teammates on the Thunder from 2011-2015.

We don’t know whether Durant responded, but that is a nice first step from Perkins, and a valuable takeaway for many of us to heed: life is precious, and we should strive to repair broken relationships.

More Larry Brown Sports coverage of Kobe Bryant’s death:

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Other victims of the helicopter crash:
John Altobelli, junior college baseball coach, also died in helicopter crash
Christina Mauser, girls’ basketball coach, among the helicopter crash victims

Tributes to Kobe:
Dallas Mavericks retire Kobe Bryant’s No. 24 jersey
Video: Raptors, Spurs start game with amazing tribute to Kobe Bryant
Shaq posts heartfelt tribute to Kobe Bryant
Michael Jordan releases statement on death of ‘little brother’ Kobe Bryant
Video: Doc Rivers breaks down crying talking about Kobe Bryant
Phil Jackson calls Kobe Bryant ‘a chosen one’ in statement on his death
NBA commissioner Adam Silver issues statement on death of Kobe Bryant
Video: Dwyane Wade posts emotional message reacting to Kobe Bryant’s death
Kendrick Perkins extends olive branch to Kevin Durant after Kobe Bryant’s death
Video: Emotional Mike Breen sums up NBA world’s emotions about Kobe Bryant’s death
Trae Young’s huge game was full of Kobe Bryant-related statistical coincidences

More coverage:
Media errors, rumors, poor judgment run rampant in reporting of Kobe Bryant news
Kobe Bryant checked in on Shaq’s son Shareef morning of helicopter crash
No, Rick Fox did not die in helicopter crash that killed Kobe, Gianna Bryant
Lakers fans start memorial to Kobe Bryant outside Staples Center
Kobe Bryant’s last tweet was congratulating LeBron James on passing him
Sports world stunned over Kobe Bryant news
Kobe Bryant dies in helicopter crash – dead at 41

Don’t miss any news
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Join our Facebook group
– Download the Larry Brown Sports app on your iOS device
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Steven Adams has hilarious reaction to Durant-Perkins Twitter beef

Steven Adams

Steven Adams is not about to get caught up in the back-and-forth between two of his former teammates.

Speaking with reporters on Friday, the Oklahoma City Thunder center had a funny reaction to the Twitter feud between Kevin Durant and Kendrick Perkins, saying that they were probably just bored.

“Ah you know how it is, mate,” said Adams, per Erik Horne of The Athletic. “They’re both a bit bored, aye? They’re not doing much so they’re probably just bored, mate. But it’s entertaining for you guys I bet, yeah?! You guys getting a little kick out of it?

“I wouldn’t say [it’s] interesting,” Adams went on. “It’s just some bickering. What’s interesting is the political stuff. American politics. That’s interesting. Not just two players bickering. C’mon.”

Adams arrived in Oklahoma City as a rookie in 2013 with both Durant and Perkins already on the team. Perkins was then traded away in 2015 and Durant left to sign with the Golden State Warriors in 2016, which was a central topic of their social media beef this week.

The 35-year-old Perkins is now retired and working as an analyst, while the former MVP Durant is still out with his Achilles injury. Thus, Adams has a point, even if he has aired out some beef with an ex-Thunder teammate too.