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Sports Kyrie Irving vows to protect Kevin Durant better than Warriors did

13:25  28 september  2019
13:25  28 september  2019 Source:   sfchronicle.com

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At Nets media day Friday, point guard Kyrie Irving vowed not to let new teammate Kevin Durant be rushed back to the court the way Irving feels Durant was with the Warriors . I’m going to be a protector of that all throughout the year and not allow anyone to infiltrate that circle.

Rachel Nichols, Byron Scott, Amin Elhassan and Tracy McGrady discuss Golden State Warriors ’ Kevin Durant saying that Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving is a

At Nets media day Friday, point guard Kyrie Irving vowed not to let new teammate Kevin Durant be rushed back to the court the way Irving feels Durant was with the Warriors.

“We all know (Durant) was not ready to play in that environment,” Irving said, referencing Game 5 of June’s NBA Finals when Durant tore his right Achilles tendon, likely sidelining him for the 2019-20 season. “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 to end up selling a product that came before the person, Kevin, and now I’m here to protect that. I’m going to be a protector of that all throughout the year and not allow anyone to infiltrate that circle.

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Kevin Durant & Kyrie Irving have a friendly competition after practice to see who can make the most 3 pointers. Thumbnail Getty Images/Nathaniel Butler http

Opinion: Kyrie Irving , Kevin Durant to Knicks? Possible, impossible at the same time. If Durant wins a third consecutive championship with the Warriors , it makes his departure simple and Sometimes, it leads right to the answer. As for Irving , his declaration that he will do what’s best for

“We have expectations for our team. We obviously know he’s an integral part, but we’ll wait for that. I’m very patient. I’ll be (overly) patient with Kevin because I don’t want anything to happen like that again. ... I want him to be 101% healthy.”

With the Warriors trailing the Raptors 3-1 in the Finals, the training staff cleared Durant to play after missing nine games with a strained right calf he suffered in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals.

Durant, however, has said that he doesn’t believe the Warriors — including director of sports medicine and performance Rick Celebrini — mishandled his injury, and that he’s ready to move on.

“Hell, no. How can you blame (the Warriors)? Hell, no,” Durant told Yahoo Sports last month. “I heard the Warriors pressured me into getting back. Nobody never said a word to me during rehab as I was coming back. It was only me and Rick working out every day. Right when the series started, I targeted Game 5.”

Asked Friday why he left the Warriors to join the Nets, Durant was vague, saying only, “I felt like it was time for a change. I wanted to play for a new team and simply put, I just did it.

“I didn’t really think about what I was leaving behind or what we accomplished. I put that up on the shelf already. When it was time to make a decision about my future, I thought solely about me.”

When asked if he considered staying with the Warriors or joining the Clippers or Knicks, Durant said he “thought about it for a couple seconds.”

Connor Letourneau is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: cletourneau@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @Con_Chron

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