Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving basking in budding rivalry with New York Knicks

Kevin Durant
Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving (11) and Brooklyn Nets power forward Kevin Durant (7) chat at a break during the second half against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

In the now-infamous viral Sidetalk video, a boisterous Knicks fan screamed into the microphone after their season-opening win: “Tell me a little something KD, don’t you regret not coming to Knicks?”

After the Nets defeated the Knicks for the fourth straight time this season, and their seventh consecutive victory over the past two seasons, it’s safe to say Kevin Durant has no regrets. He is, however, loving the rivalry between New York’s two basketball clubs.

The Nets’ cornerstone player balled out again on Wednesday night as he dropped 32 points and helped lead a comeback win over the Knicks at the building often referred to as the “Mecca of Basketball.” It was the second consecutive game between the rivals that Durant had a big showing, putting up 53 points against the Knicks in Brooklyn on March 13.

“We know how much Knicks fans don’t like us,” Durant said. “Especially now this era, with us not choosing the Knicks, me and Kyrie (Irving). It definitely adds something to the rivalry no matter who is on the team. You know, I think it will always be like that in the city. It’s good to be a part of this. It’s a fun rivalry. Hopefully, it continues to build. If we get more and more animosity between the fan bases, it’s only good for the game.”

After seven straight losses to the Nets, the Knicks and their fans are sure to harbor growing resentment going forward. Especially with that coming after Durant and Irving opted to set up shop across the Brooklyn Bridge at Barclays Center and not the hallowed halls of The Garden.

The viral video at the beginning of the year was just one example of how fans of the orange and blue continued to imagine what could have been if one of basketball’s best players had opted to sign in Manhattan.

“I mean imagine the tweets I’ve been getting since I decided to come to the Nets from Knick fans,” Durant said. “They still pissed off about stuff I say and the little jabs here and there. But, like I said, there’s always love in the streets when I see the Knicks fans. Always love at the games, but it’s a good rivalry to be a part of and everyone who steps in our building realize how big these games are.

“It felt like a home game to us the last two times in The Garden and it feels like a home game to the Knicks when they come to the Barclays. That’s what basketball is all about and I’m grateful to be a part of it.”

The Knicks heavily pursued Durant in 2019, but he ultimately opted to sign across the river and bring along Irving as well. The Nets’ plan with the two superstars — which included James Harden before he was traded in February — has not gone exactly how they had hoped.

However, the excitement remains for what Irving and Durant can build in Brooklyn together.

“I think one of the funniest things that I see out there from Knicks fans is just me and K are perfect for each other because of the way we respond on social sometimes. But I think it’s all in good fun,” Irving said. “(The Knicks) had a good chance at getting us back in free agency, but we just felt like we wanted to build here and just make our mark on this franchise. I don’t think we regret our decision.

“And we just want to live with really leaning on each other and making sure this is successful for us.”

New York’s budding basketball rivalry is still growing, and despite the Nets having played in the area for decades. it still hasn’t reached the heights of the battles between the New York Mets and New York Yankees in baseball or the New York Islanders and New York Rangers in hockey.

But with two of the game’s biggest stars in Brooklyn and the close games the two sides have played, it’s only a matter of time before it reaches another exciting level.