Above all else, Kevin Durant wants to win.
And while Kyrie Irving’s decision to refuse the COVID-19 vaccine has complicated that goal—the Brooklyn Nets banned the mercurial point guard from participating in any games or practices this season until he gets the jab—KD still has every intention of winning his 3rd NBA championship this season with or without the seven-time All-Star. But if he could have it his way, as he explained to reporters per ESPN, “none of this stuff would happen.”
“Definitely want Kyrie to be around,” he told reporters on Thursday. “I wish none of this stuff would happen, but this is the situation that we are in. Kyrie made his decision on what he wanted to do and he chose to do what he wanted to do, and the team did the same.
“It’s on me to just focus on me, and do my job, and let those two parties handle that situation. I want our whole team together, and I want us to be at full strength, but sometimes it don’t work out that way. But I am still positive that things will work out the best for both parties.”
Translation: “Nigga, would you take the damn jab already?”
Respect due to KD for being so patient and diplomatic about a situation that could potentially derail an NBA championship run before it even begins, but Kyrie’s constant off-court drama when he’s barely on the court to begin with has to be weighing on his teammates and the rest of the franchise. In sports, it’s often said that the best ability is availability, and for one reason or another, far too often one of the best scorers in the league is nowhere to be found—either on the court or otherwise.
So while Kyrie mulls an NBA future that is suspended indefinitely until he takes the COVID-19 vaccine, the rest of his teammates will be clinging on to the hope of his return for dear life.
“This is not the ideal situation coming into the season. But some of this, it’s out of our control,” Durant said. “So, what we can do is come in and focus on our jobs every single day. What is being mad going to do? We are not going to change his mind, know what I’m saying? We’ll let him figure out what he needs to do and the team figure out what they need to do. I can’t be too mad at somebody making a decision for themselves.”
He continued, “Who am I to get upset at that? Just focus on what we got in this locker room. When [Irving] is ready, I am sure he will talk to [Nets owner] Joe [Tsai] and [Nets general manager] Sean [Marks] and they’ll figure it out and they’ll tell us. Until then we are going to keep grinding.”
Good luck with that, KD. Because if Kyrie’s thoughts on the matter are any indication, he’s prepared to die on that $186 million hill.