LAS VEGAS — With his arrival in Brooklyn, Kevin Durant becomes the most decorated and accomplished player ever acquired by the Nets, with nine All-NBA selections, an MVP award and two NBA Finals MVP awards just the start of it.
A track record like that draws admirers and fans, and for Durant, some of them are now his teammates. Not long after the Brooklyn Nets Summer League squad arrived in Las Vegas, 21-year-old forward Rodions Kurucs eagerly declared that Durant was his favorite player while growing up in Latvia.
“It’s not weird, it’s just exciting,” said Kurucs after a Summer League win against Croatia on Sunday. “I just like it. Like I said, I’m just going to have a lot of things to learn from him, I hope he will teach me a lot.”
Dzanan Musa, also heading into his second NBA season, followed Durant from a distance in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“I went on a European championship in Slovenia I think,” said Musa. “And I didn’t have my shoes. So I called my mom, bring me some shoes, this that. But I want KD’s shoes. Seven, eight years (ago). And now to realize that I have him as a teammate, as a mentor, it’s unbelievable.”
Rookie Nic Claxton was drafted by the Nets on June 20 and 10 days later found out he’d be starting his NBA career as teammates with three members of the 2016 United States Olympic team — Durant, Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan.
“It’s been crazy,” said Claxton. “I didn’t even imagine Kyrie and KD coming to join Brooklyn this year the way it happened. It’s really going to be a blessing to play alongside those players and get some of their knowledge from them, DeAndre Jordan being a big guy. So it’ll be fun and I’ll be ready to work.”
Some of the Nets have a different perspective. Caris LeVert and Taurean Prince are each heading into their fourth NBA seasons and have become friendly with Durant during their time in the NBA.
At his end-of-season exit interview in April, LeVert described Durant as a “big brother” who had reached out to him while LeVert was recovering from foot surgery. Durant had gone through a similar experience a few years earlier.
Prince connected with Durant through mutual friends a few years ago, and while he tries to emulate Durant on the court, the relationship is rarely about hoops.
“We’ve never really spoken about the basketball part of it,” said Prince. “He’s always just been a mentor with me at life, my approach to the game, my preparation. I’ve taken a few things he does and put it into my own regimen. I’m kind of just learning as I go.”