Bill Simmons is joined once again by self-proclaimed “Basketball Guru” Kevin Durant to discuss the distance between players and fans, growing the game of basketball, Twitter’s impact on the NBA, the desire to master basketball, the All-NBA team, the revamped NBA All-Star Game, the Rookie of the Year race, the partnership he has with LeBron James, and the start to another KD mailbag.
Part of their conversation includes when Durant realized that Kyrie Irving was one of the best players in the league. It was during last year’s Finals, which was no cakewalk for Golden State despite being just a five-game series. Here’s Durant explaining how hard it is to go up against Kyrie, LeBron, and the Cavs—even if you’re on the Warriors:
Durant: Do you know how hard it is to be good every night? … Do you know how hard it is to play against LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love? We couldn’t bullshit with them dudes, man. We could not. They’re too good. They’re too good to come in the game and not try to win; we couldn’t come in and say, “Alright, we’ll play in the second quarter, third quarter and win.” We couldn’t do it against those three, and the rest of the guys they had. [Iman] Shumpert was in there, Kyle Korver. We had to be on point with those dudes. If we weren’t, we were going to lose the game. That’s how talented Kyrie Irving [is]—he made me a believer last year. I liked Kyrie, but when we played against him, I’m like, “Oh shit. This guy is a king hooper.”
Simmons: If you hadn’t beaten them in five, they probably wouldn’t have traded him. If that had been a seven-game series and they’d come almost so close, at that point you can’t trade him.
Durant: I don’t know about that. I think he would ask for a trade either way, but that’s my opinion.
Simmons: You know what I would have said to him if I owned the Cavs? “I’m sorry you feel that way, Kyrie. Training camp starts on September 19.”
Durant: Oh, so you’re just going to tell him that he couldn’t leave?
Simmons: Yeah, I would ride it out. I would try to make it work. I don’t want to trade one of the best 10 players in basketball. That’s not one of my goals in the summer.
Durant: What if he don’t want to be there?
Simmons: We’ll make it work.
Durant: Tell me somebody in the league that can do what Kyrie Irving can do. Tell me.
Or in the history of the game, that can do what he can do.
Simmons: I think him and Isiah Thomas have the best handle. Isiah Thomas [from] Detroit, not Celtics Isaiah Thomas.
Durant: Kyrie, playing against him in the Finals made me realize how damn good he is. When we played against them, I knew we couldn’t just come out there and just dick around. We had to play the game. And then you have LeBron James, who people call the best player ever to play the game.
This transcription has been edited and condensed. Listen to the full podcast here.