Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant has a mild-mannered demeanor. But if you push the right buttons, Durant has no problem showing off his mean streak. Montrezl Harrell of the Nets’ Eastern Conference rival Philadelphia 76ers found that out the hard way.
Harrell spoke negatively of Nets starting center Nic Claxton before the teams matched up on January 25. When Durant caught wind of Harrell’s comments, he didn’t hesitate to take aim at the Sixers forward.
“Montrezl? Come on, Montrezl. He was talking crazy. Like Montrezl is not like that. Like you’re an enforcer as a basketball player, but you’re not that guy like come on man,” Durant said on the January 30 episode of “The ETCs”.
“[Claxton] is having a good year bro. Come on now. Don’t do that…there was a little shade in that! There was a little shade in that…Like, of course, Kyrie’s the head of the snake. Just like Joel Embiid is the head of the snake, but we’re not gonna forget about Tobias Harris and Tyrese Maxey and you, and James (Harden), but come on bro. Give somebody some credit fam. It ain’t that hard.”
"You not like that. You're an enforcer as a basketball player, but you're not that guy. Clax is having a good year. There was a little shade in that."
Kevin Durant called out Montrezl Harrell for talking down on Nic Claxton 👀
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) January 30, 2023
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Claxton has arguably been the Nets’ third-best player this season, after Kyrie Irving and Durant. He is averaging career highs in nearly every statistical category, including a league-leading 2.7 blocks per game, which has earned him consideration for this year’s NBA Defensive Player of the Year award.
But despite all the hype surrounding Claxton’s improvement this season, Harrell didn’t seem too impressed when asked about it by reporters before the Sixers’ matchup with the Nets.
“I don’t know nothing about that, brother,” Harrell told reporters on January 25 via Yahoo Sports.
“We’re talking about a guy who steps up, but at the same time, Kyrie Irving. Same as if Kevin Durant was there, it’d be him too. At the same time, it’s good that he’s playing well and stuff like that. Cool, but it’s not the focal point of our (defense) or what we’re trying to take away. We know the head of that engine is through Kyrie. and everything that they’ve been doing since KD has been out, it’s been through Kyrie.”
The Nets now have a record of 3-6 since Durant sprained his MCL on January 8. At the time of his injury, Brooklyn was threatening to take over the number one seed in the Eastern Conference. But without their best player, the Nets have fallen to fourth place in the East.
The situation is eerily similar to the trajectory of the Nets 2022 season when Durant suffered the same injury, and the Nets plummeted from the top seed in the East to having to compete in the play-in tournament. But Durant says the Nets can’t get caught up with the similarities between 2022 and 2023. The important thing is to stay focused on the goal at hand.
“I’m not even looking at it like that. It’s a different year, a different time. It looks like the same situation, but it’s a different time. It’s hard to compare anything,” Durant told reporters on January 24 via NetsDaily.
“It’s always tough when one of your main guys goes out of the lineup and you’re trying to readjust on the fly like that. It’s going to take some time. It took us four games. Luckily, we still were 12, 13 games over .500, so it was cool to take that little stretch and learn so we could get better moving forward. It was tough to go through, but it was much needed to take those lumps.”
If the Nets can weather the storm in Durant’s absence, they could be well-positioned to be a higher seed in the playoffs this year.