“Like I’m the reason why [expletive] Orlando couldn’t make the playoffs for five, six years in a row?” Durant told USA Today Sports in an article published Friday. “Am I the reason that Brooklyn gave all their picks to Boston? Like, am I the reason that they’re not that good? [Laughs.]
“I can’t play for every team, so the truth of the matter is I left one team. It’s one more team that you probably would’ve thought would’ve been a contender. One more team. I couldn’t have made the [entire] East better. I couldn’t have made everybody [else] in the West better.”
Durant previously weighed in on NBA parity during the Warriors’ 12-0 run to the NBA Finals, telling fans upset with a high number of postseason blowouts, “If you don’t like it, don’t watch it,” during a postgame interview session after Game 3 of the Western Conference finals. He later apologized for the comment but did not back down from the sentiment.
Durant’s teammates said a third straight Warriors-Cavaliers Finals isn’t a problem for the league, with Stephen Curry calling it “disrespectful” to imply that the matchup is an example of a watered-down NBA.
“Us and Cleveland worked our butts off all year to put ourselves in position to be playing for a championship, and the league is as strong talentwise across the board as it’s ever been,” Curry said. “And every night you get challenged. … Every night was hard. Every night was challenging, and you can’t just sleepwalk through a season, sleepwalk through the playoffs and expect to be here. You’ve got to do something. You got to come out every night and prove yourself.”
Draymond Green, meanwhile, said the Warriors and Cavaliers romping through the playoffs was a “great thing” for the NBA.
“Everyone wants to say, ‘Ah man, this is boring and this, that and the other,’ but you usually don’t appreciate something until you don’t have it anymore,” Green said. “And so, I think maybe there’s just a lack of appreciation for greatness. But then when you look at a situation, most people have never reached greatness. So maybe there’s just not an understanding of what you’re watching. I think you’ve found two great teams, and we’ve played that way, and maybe people don’t appreciate it because of a blowout or because of a sweep.
“But people may want to be careful, because I think right now you’re witnessing greatness. Two great teams, great players, and that’s what it is.”
In a wide-ranging interview with USA Today, Durant expressed that he is “at peace” with his decision to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder after they lost to the Warriors in last season’s Western Conference finals.
“I think this move, and the criticism that comes with this move, has made me zero in on what’s the most important thing, and that’s just playing basketball, working out every day, getting better, enjoying every single day as a basketball player,” Durant told the newspaper. “It made me really appreciate that. It made me go back to that. When you listen to the nonsense, then you start to really let it take control of your thoughts, that’s [not good], you know what I’m saying? So I just got back to the game.”
He said he has largely blocked out negative fan reactions at this point.
Durant missed 20 games toward the end of the regular season and two games in the first round of the playoffs, but he averaged 28.0 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists in a four-game sweep of the San Antonio Spurs.
ESPN’s Chris Haynes contributed to this report.