Nets insist they don’t hold grudges against James Harden

PHILADELPHIA – Face to face with the nets former teammate James Harden Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, for the first time since he forced the trade last month, are unsure there was anything they could have said or done to change his mind about the exit.

On the eve of Thursday’s reunion, a matchup with the 76ers, the remaining two-thirds of what should have been a historic Brooklyn Big 3 insisted there were no hard feelings. Irving only said he got too many mixed messages and not enough real conversations and communication.

“I was late on the matter and I was told one thing and then another thing and then the trade deadline comes and now it’s a very different situation.” said Irving. “Now I’m answering questions about what happened or whether things could have gone better or not. I don’t have a timeline of whether things could have gone better or not.

“I thought we were in a good swing. But everyone has their own visions for the start of the season, everyone has their own visions for the start and end of a career. If that’s what James wanted then I respect his decision and that’s the way it is. I wish him nothing but peace and love. We have a great friendship, but it didn’t work out. I wish things could have been communicated better for all of us as men, but hey, no awkward feelings here with me or anyone else.”

Kyrie Irving, James Harden and Kevin Durant
Kyrie Irving, James Harden and Kevin Durant
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Multiple sources said Harden kept telling the networks everything was fine, but made his disillusionment known outside of the team. And he confirmed at the 76ers’ inaugural press conference last month that Irving’s refusal to get vaccinated (and thus become a full-time player) played a role.

Irving felt Harden could have been more clear in telling the team how he was feeling, but also took some responsibility in the situation – in terms of communication, not vaccination.

“It’s organization, so we all communicate. We’re all responsible for it,” Irving said. “It’s great for the league to build things like this, but we have a group in our dressing room where we just want to be mature if we go to Philly and do business and move on.”

For his part, Durant echoed the sentiment of moving on. He also said he wasn’t sure if there was anything that could have convinced Harden to stay long-term.

“I don’t know,” Durant said. “If you look at it from his perspective and you look up and Ky isn’t playing, and then I’m injured, he’s never won a league so he looks – he’s 32 years old I think – he looks to himself, that’s a decision want to meet to get on a team that can enter this fight and be one of the last teams standing.

“So if you look at it from his perspective, you could say it is what it is. You can’t really control how someone feels when they think that way. Hopefully he stays healthy and your team stays healthy, we stay healthy, we’re having a great year, they’re having a great year and we’re just going to keep going.”

Harden did not speak in practice on Wednesday. Sixers coach Doc Rivers said, “It’s obviously a different game with what’s going on.” He added that this series had a little extra on the pitch even before the trade.

“It’ll be a different feeling playing him shortly after the trade, but exciting,” said Nets coach Steve Nash.

Durant channeled a ready-made vibe there had been regarding meeting Harden. He said there was a time when he would have been particularly excited to face off against a recently traded teammate but now all he wants is victory.

“When I was younger, 22, 23, you see a guy who just got traded and your emotions are everywhere. You don’t know how you’re going to approach the game because it feels like a big game because you’re playing against one of your former teammates,” Durant said. “But it is what it is. It’s just another game for us.

“We want to win and they want to win. … I know James has been here and developed some relationships with a few people here, but at the end of the day we want to go out and make hoops.” Nets insist they don’t hold grudges against James Harden


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