After Blockbuster Trade, Nets Kevin Durant Says Playing With James Harden In Oklahoma City Was Fun

 forbes.com  01/14/2021 04:07:14 
BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2014

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 14: Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder and James Harden of the ... [+] Houston Rockets watch the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2014 as part of the 2014 NBA Allstar Weekend at the Smoothie King Center on February 14, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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Kevin Durant and James Harden helped lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to the NBA Finals in 2012 and after the two men were reportedly reunited on the Brooklyn Nets via a blockbuster four-team trade Wednesday, Durant was asked what he remembers about playing with Harden.

It was fun, he said succinctly.

Just last month, when the Harden trade rumors were swirling, Durant said, I dont think about James Harden at all. I mean, he doesnt play on our team.

Now he will.

After acquiring Harden to join forces in a Big Three with Durant and Kyrie Irving, the Nets are now the second favorite behind LeBron James and the defending NBA champion Lakers to win the title. It was James, then with the Heat, who beat Durant, Harden and the Thunder, 4-1, to win the title in 2012.

I heard thats not even finalized yet so Ill talk about it another time, Durant said of the Harden deal on a Zoom call with reporters after putting up 26 points, six assists and three rebounds in the Nets 116-109 win over the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. It was Durants first game against the team he bypassed in free agency in 2019.

Last month Durant dismissed as made up reports that he had spoken with Harden during offseason workouts in Los Angeles about joining the Nets.

I dont know where you making these stories up that me and James talked about any of this at a workout, Durant said then. I dont know where that came from. James is a friend of mine, but I let the front office handle all of that stuff.

And they did.

The contracts of Harden, Durant and Irving all run though next season. so their window to win an NBA championship is basically the next couple of seasons. All three have a player option for the 2022-23 season. Harden is due $41.3 million this season and $44.3 million in 2021-22.

Houston Rockets v Golden State Warriors - Game Five

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - MAY 08: Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors is guarded by James ... [+] Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets during Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at ORACLE Arena on May 08, 2019 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

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Harden, 31, played his final game with the Rockets Tuesday night against the Lakers and then said the Rockets are just not good enough to compete for a title.

Harden, an eight-time NBA All-Star and the 2018 league MVP, is averaging 24.8 points, 10.4 assists and 5.1 rebounds.

How exactly Durant, Harden and Irving will coexist and share one basketball remains to be seen, but first-year head coach Steve Nash said the key is unselfish play.

I always talk to our players about making each other better and having all five guys be a threat and working to find commonality on the floor and in space together, Nash said. It really is a simple game, but it becomes complicated when you put different personalities and players on the floor and our group has done a really good job being unselfish and trying to move the ball and work together so Ive been proud of that. I dont think weve struggled to share the basketball this year.

The Nets figure to be all over the back page of the tabloids in New York on Thursday, and are now clearly the biggest draw in town.

Denver Nuggets v Brooklyn Nets

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 12: Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets dunks during the first half ... [+] against the Denver Nuggets at Barclays Center on January 12, 2021 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

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And not just because they dominated the Knicks for much of the game despite having only nine available players.

It was a good win and especially we talked about it [Tuesday] night, we wanted to finish the second half of a back-to-back and especially with a team thats right across the bridge from us and know what that rivalry is like and know the intensity that this team plays with at home, Durant said. So we really wanted this game tonight and everybody played like it, and from top to bottom it was a great effort.

Durant famously said he chose the Nets, not the Knicks, in free agency two years ago because the Knicks were no longer cool. The Knicks, in any case, reportedly never offered Durant a max contract.

When he finally did play at the Garden, there were no fans on hand to boo him.

We definitely missed the fans out there tonight and Im sure they wouldve gave them an extra push as they tried to get back into the game, Durant said. But down the line, I know these battles are going to be tough no matter what each teams record is, just the fact that its about New York City right now, the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks is always going to be a good draw.

Its a good step for us and we know this team the Knicks are going to come back even better the next game.

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