"Kyrie's Better Than Allen Iverson" and Other Cavs Thoughts From Kevin Durant on the Bill Simmons Podcast

click to enlarge "Kyrie's Better Than Allen Iverson" and Other Cavs Thoughts From Kevin Durant on the Bill Simmons Podcast
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Fresh off winning his first NBA Championship, NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant sat down with The Ringer’s Bill Simmons to discuss the Finals on Simmons’ podcast. Durant had plenty of things to say about the Cavaliers. Some highlights:

Durant on Kyrie Irving: “He just makes you happy when you watch him play…you just smile when you watch him. For somebody to be that skilled, you just know he had to work tirelessly for it. His package is next level stuff that you can try and teach your kids to do it but you’ll never be able to do it. I’ve never seen anybody block his layup and he’s 6’2". I’ve never seen one person pin his layup on the glass. Not one. I got so much respect for him cuz I know how much work he put in to be that good. I’ve never seen nobody like him... He’s a way better shooter than Iverson. Kyrie’s better than AI (Allen Iverson) to me. Skill for skill, his handle is better...Kyrie got more skill."

On his title not being easy, “You had Kyrie, LeBron, Kevin Love...JR Smith. (The Equinox team come to life is) exactly what it was. The big bullies versus the nerds and the nerds won this time because we thought the game. We thought the game and we executed a little better.”

On playing defense against the Cavaliers: “We played so small. Draymond (Green) at the 5, I’m at the 4, so I have to guard LeBron and when I’m not guarding him, I’m guarding Kevin Love, and Kyrie some possessions and I didn’t have a break. I had to be on alert with all of those guys. Kyle Korver when he came into the game, JR Smith. Then there are guys you can kind of play off of but they’re still dynamic and will cut...like Shumpert and Richard Jefferson, you still gotta be aware of them because they’re gonna make the winning basketball plays and on top of that you have the shooters so it was kind of hard to lock in on helping on LeBron when he was driving and knowing he could whip a pass to the corner and hit a shooter so I had to be on guard, from chasing Korver to Kyrie dribbling ten times in a possession to get a basket to LeBron, because they had so many weapons.”

On potentially losing Game 5, “I did not want to go back to Cleveland and deal with that again. That’d’ve been sick. There would’ve been a Game 7 for sure.”

On trash talk with LeBron, “He was telling me to just play the game. They just want to hoop. Same with me. All the extra stuff don’t really matter. Ya’ll playing physical which is cool but the extra stuff don’t matter. Let’s just play….I wouldn’t say he was agitated.”

On Game 3: “They had some good shots. (Korver’s) shot was a good shot. Good play...Steph got a solid contest but every time he (Korver) got a look you thought it was going in.”

On if the Warriors thought they’d sweep the Cavs: “We were confident but we knew how hard it was gonna be. We knew they weren’t just going to let us sweep them on their home floor and celebrate, it wasn’t gonna go like that. They played an excellent basketball game as far as exploiting all our weaknesses...86 points at the half! I’ve never seen that before.”

On the Cavaliers’ crowd: “Game 3 was crazy. I walked out and I was trying to keep my cool and keep my head straight and I heard somebody behind the bench say, “I could score 30 on that team!” and I was like ‘Oh my gosh, c’mon man.’”

On what he learned about LeBron James after five games and if his level of respect deepened, “It’s probably just the same. I had a lot of respect for him early on. You can respect anybody who worked as hard as you... I knew what he could do. You got that respect, you can appreciate his journey from before then. I was already watching him so I was already building my respect since day one. So it wasn’t that I learned anything new because that’s all I watched was him. I already knew everything I was supposed to know.”

On how LeBron is different from 2012, the first time Durant and LeBron met in the Finals: “Just mentally, his game has changed because he found out he could do whatever he wants out there. He can score if he wants to, he can get everybody involved, he can create lanes, he can create mismatches, so he realized that he’s just playing a chess game out there. That’s what all the really, really great players do. And I see that throughout the series and try to match that, ya know? Try to beat him move for move, strategically throughout the series. Your mind has to always be working. You can’t get distracted and that’s what the great players make you do. He’s one of those.”

If there was a point where he saw defeat in the Cavaliers’ eyes in Game 5: “Yeah, when we went up big in the second quarter, I felt like they were letting it slip away and they sensed they were letting it slip away and then they hit some timely threes. If they wouldn’t have hit those threes, like JR Smith, those two threes he hit then I felt like we’d be going into halftime with a clear hold on the game but they got some hope because of those two threes. And that’s what you need somebody like JR Smith for. You just inject him into the game and he injects energy into the rest of the team.”

On how he looked at the series and how it felt like a pickup game, “The type of players that you would play pickup with were all on the court. The big, fast, strong bully who would run to the rim in LeBron James. The dude who’s going to dribble the whole possession and look sweet while doing it in Kyrie Irving. Then you get the big white guy who can rebound and shoot threes, Kevin Love...It feels like it was a team created at 24-Hour Fitness, like the perfect team.”