Kevin Durant says he knows why Kyrie Irving wanted to leave LeBron James

2017 NBA Finals - Game One

If there’s anyone who knows what it’s like to leave behind an NBA co-star, it’s Kevin Durant.

After making the decision to leave behind Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City, Durant is fresh off of his first championship season with the Golden State Warriors. Now, he claims to know exactly why Kyrie Irving wanted to leave LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

On Wednesday, Irving was traded to the Boston Celtics for a package that included Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Nets’ first-round pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. In an interview with The Ringer’s Bill Simmons, Durant said that Irving requested to be traded last month because he simply wants to play ball instead of dealing with the distraction that comes along with playing under LeBron’s shadow.

"When you’re around LeBron James, there’s so much that comes with that. Outside distractions and conversations and just noise that just comes around just from being around LeBron James. And Kyrie was at the point, like, 'All right, we lost the championship, this whole season’s gonna be about if LeBron’s gonna leave or not. I’m ready for a new challenge.' All that stuff kind of met at the pinnacle of why he wanted to leave, and it just felt like he wanted a situation where he would just be free from all of that and just play,” Durant explained.

In other words, why wouldn't Kyrie want to leave if there was a threat of him being stuck in Cleveland if LeBron bolts town again next summer? Also, when would the 25-year-old be able to become the face of his own franchise? The answer was clear that until James left (if he chose to), that wouldn’t happen. Since he had two years left on his current deal, the time to leave was now.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics - Game Five

KD also explained why he thinks Kyrie will thrive in Boston.

“It’s a perfect system for him in Boston; it’s a perfect fit. Because he’s a 6-foot-3 Isaiah Thomas, basically, and Isaiah just thrived in that system, and then he got Gordon Hayward and Al Horford, who are gonna be able to make plays for him, too. It’s gonna be pretty sweet. I think it was a great deal,” Durant said. “But I just think Kyrie just wanted a place where he can focus on just playing basketball and not worrying about the other drama that comes with.”

The Finals MVP also praised Irving, saying that he reminds him of himself in a few respects.

2017 NBA Finals - Game One

“Kyrie reminds me of myself, just from the outside looking in,” Durant explained. “I may be wrong on all these things, but from the outside looking in, I’ve been around him for a month or so, he reminds me of myself as far as just loving to play the game, just wanting to learn it and try to get better at it every day. I can feel that, I can sense that in him.”

Durant will be able to get an up-close-and-personal view of how Irving fits in on his new team when the Warriors travel to Boston on November 16 and host them in California on January 27.

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