“He’s on That Stephen Curry Level.. But”: Stephen A. Smith Blames Kyrie Irving’s ‘Drama’ for NBA Downfall With Kevin Durant

Published 05/18/2022, 5:37 PM EDT
Mar 29, 2022; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) reacts to guard Kyrie Irving (11) during the third quarter against the Detroit Pistons at Barclays Center. The Nets defeated the Pistons 130-123. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The conversation to determine the best player in the NBA has been dominated by LeBron James for a long time. But many critics and analysts have recently started to favor Kevin Durant in that conversation, especially after the Golden State Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers in back-to-back seasons in 2017 and 2018.

Kevin Durant was Finals MVP on both occasions. However, some critics have limited Durant from the discussion citing the reason that he joined an already championship caliber team and destroyed any kind of competition the league had to offer.

Durant suffered a dangerous Achilles injury in 2019 which precluded him from playing for more than a year. He returned to the league as a Brooklyn Net along with NBA champion Kyrie Irving.

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Kevin Durant vs the Milwaukee Bucks

Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving teaming up received a lot of media attention. They were touted as the chief rivals to the defending champions in LeBron’s Lakers. Expectations increased after James Harden joined the Nets to create a big three.

Apr 17, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) reacts after the game against the Boston Celtics in the second half during game one of the first round for the 2022 NBA playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

However, both the Lakers’ and the Nets’ seasons perished due to injuries. But the argument for Durant being the best player in the league heightened after the 33-year-old put up historic numbers in a losing effort against the Milwaukee Bucks.

He averaged 35.4 points, 5.4 dimes and 10.6 boards in 7 games. In games five and seven, he scored 49 and 48 points respectively.

Durant would’ve single-handedly taken Brooklyn past Giannis’ Bucks if his foot was an inch off the 3-point line in a clutch game 7 shot. Bucks winning the championship, in turn, underscored KD’s greatness as a player.

Stephen A. Smith blames ‘drama’ of Kyrie Irving for Nets’ downfall

This year, a healthy Nets team eyed the championship with rejuvenated ambition. But Kyrie Irving’s personal choices got him banned from playing most of the games in the regular season. The team missed out on a chance to play together once again.

Frustrated with Kyrie’s antics, James Harden forced a trade out of Brooklyn. The team suffered a heavy loss.

A broken and disoriented Brooklyn Nets got swept by the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs. Kevin Durant averaged only 26.3 points.

In a debate on First Take, Stephen A. Smith refused to ascribe any blame to Keven Durant. Rather he blamed Kyrie Irving’s antics for the debacle.

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Now, as a basketball player, Kyrie Irving is sensational. As far as I’m concerned, he’s on that Steph Curry level.”

But in terms of the drama that comes along“, added Stephen A., “It seems foolhardy for him [Durant] to make that selection.”

Watch this story: Venus Williams’ Unheard Contribution to Miami Heat’s 2 NBA Championships

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Clearly, Smith believes that Kyrie has what it takes to match ace shooter Steph, but isn’t fulfilling it. However, Kevin Durant is adamant to stay with Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn. It will be interesting to see what next season unfolds for them.

 

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Satagni Sikder

165 articles

Satagni Sikder is an NBA writer for EssentiallySports. He has a Master's degree in English from Jadavpur University, Kolkata, and has been following the NBA since 2017. Moreover, he supports the Dallas Mavericks, and unsurprisingly, Luka Doncic is his favorite player.

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