Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant made his official return to an NBA court for the first time in around 18 months, marking the end of a tireless rehab from injury, and made his debut for the Nets as well.
While the Nets would beat the Washington Wizards in their preseason opener, all eyes were on Durant, and how he would look following such a long absence.
“I visualized this moment for so long, you know? Nine, 10 months just thinking about how it would be this next phase of my career,” Durant said, according to NBA.com’s Tom Dowd. “So, I felt like I was just chomping at the bit. Especially once COVID hit, I was just so frustrated because I didn’t see an end. I mean, I didn’t see the future, where the season was going to start in the future, so I was just so, I was going through it. So to go through this felt solid, and I’ve just got to keep building on it.”
Durant looked like he didn’t miss a beat as he collected 15 points and showed his chemistry with Nets point guard Kyrie Irving along the way.
“I felt good. I want to play at the highest level of basketball, you know? That’s the highest intensity of basketball, and it’s not in preseason,” Durant said. “Like I said, it’s a good first step. I want to play at an elite level late in the season and playoffs. That’s when I want to play my best basketball, so I’m working towards that point. So I think every single day just keep working and getting used to it. I think my rhythm and timing is going to get better as I move on, so I’m just looking forward to each day.”
Nets head coach Steve Nash had plenty to be happy about seeing Durant on the court, including flashes of his MVP form.
“I thought we saw flashes of everything,” Nash said. “We saw good stints, where I thought we were really impressive at both ends of the floor, but overall, it wasn’t really as sustainable as we’d like. But that’s to be expected this early, a week of practice, and like I said, we’re going to err on the side of trying to help them manage their physical preparation as much as anything. Overall, it was a really productive exercise for us today. It will be good to look at it overnight and continue to refine and tweak. The guys, I thought, played well and tried to play the right way and we’ll get better.”