Asked by co-host Stephen A. Smith if the episode played a role in Durant’s decision to join the Brooklyn Nets as a free agent over the summer, the two-time Finals MVP replied, “A little bit, yeah, for sure.”
“I mean, your teammate talk to you that way, you think about it a bit,” Durant added. “We talked about it, but definitely, for sure. I’m not going to lie about it.”
The episode in question unfolded during a matchup last November with the Los Angeles Clippers, after Durant appeared to express frustration that Green did not pass him the ball in a late-game sequence. An argument that erupted between them on the Warriors’ bench reportedly continued into Golden State’s locker room and included Green repeatedly calling Durant an expletive.
Their heated discussion also reportedly touched on Durant’s impending free agency and the cloud it hung over the Warriors’ season. Green was suspended a game by the Warriors for conduct detrimental to the team, while Durant said at the time that he was “upset” by the incident but claimed then that it would not be a factor in his free agency plans.
On Thursday, Durant told ESPN that the fallout from the argument with Green “brought in a firestorm” and “opened up a lot of nonsense.”
“I wish that wouldn’t have happened,” Durant declared. “I feel like that definitely could have been avoided. … Draymond knew that he was out of line, and as men we talked about it."
On a recent podcast (via ESPN), Green said of their altercation, “I just had to accept the fact that I was wrong. And once I was able to get over my stubbornness and accept the fact that I was wrong, I was able to move on. I lost [Durant’s] trust. How do I get that back? Not so we can win a championship or we can win some games … but I actually loved this guy, like that’s really my brother. And so not knowing what’s next in our relationship bothered me more.”
Of his overall reasoning in leaving the Warriors, with whom he reached three NBA Finals in as many seasons, winning two championships, Durant said he “just felt like I needed a switch.”
“I felt like a lot of stuff in Golden State had reared its head, and I felt like that was going to be the end for that group no matter what,” he continued. “Shaun Livingston was retiring, Andre Iguodala was getting older, our contracts were going to stifle the team and put us in a hole to get other players, so it was time for all of us to kind of separate.”
Durant’s final on-court moment with Golden State involved tearing his Achilles’ in June during Game 5 of an eventual Finals loss to the Toronto Raptors. He dismissed a suggestion Thursday that he might be able to play at some point this season for the Nets, particularly if the team made the playoffs.
“I’m not thinking about [a return],” he said, “just rehabbing every day. It’s a slow process, so I’m grinding.”
Meanwhile, the Warriors’ ability to make the playoffs without Durant took a hit when Stephen Curry broke his hand during a loss Wednesday against the Phoenix Suns.
“Luckily it wasn’t anything more serious than that, especially seeing Klay [Thompson of Golden State] out for the whole season, myself out for the whole year,” Durant said of Curry. “So I’m sure he’ll be back playing again, but it was tough to see him break his hand on TV. I mean, he’s been doing so much, and the team is still transitioning — it’s a new group, and a young group, so he’s trying to do so much — and having him out is going to be tough for them to sustain.”
Asked about a team that has enjoyed considerably more recent success — Durant’s hometown Washington Nationals — he replied that he was “ecstatic” to see them win the World Series.
“I mean, a [championship] back in D.C.? We got the Caps, the Mystics and now the Nats,” he said. “It feels good.”
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