NEWLY crowned NBA champ and Finals MVP Kevin Durant heaped praise on Kyrie Irving, to the point of putting the Cleveland Cavaliers guard ahead of Hall of Famer Allen Iverson.
Coming off the Golden State Warriors’ five-game conquest of the Cavs in the NBA Finals, Durant told The Ringer’s Bill Simmons on Tuesday (Wednesday, Manila time) how impressed he was with Irving, who displayed his incredible handles and shot-making skills en route to averaging 29.4 points in the championship series.
“I was telling some of my friends after Game 2, I was like, Kyrie, he just makes you happy when you watch him play. You just smile when you watch him play, because for somebody to be that skilled, you know he had to work tirelessly at it,” Durant said of the 6-foot-2 Irving. “The stuff he has in his package is next-level stuff that you can try to teach your kids to do it, but you'll never be able to do it."
“I've never seen nobody block [Irving's] layup, and he's 6-2. I've never seen one person pin his layup on the glass, not one. Because the spin he got on it and he don't got to look at it. I've got so much respect for him because I know how much work he has to put in to be that good," he added.
Durant went on to compare Irving to Iverson, saying the Cavs guard tops the former NBA MVP in terms of skills.
“Kyrie is better than AI to me. I’m going from like skill for skill. His handle is better,” said Durant, who quickly qualified his comparison.
“We might have to cut that out — I don’t want no problems with AI. Y’all might have to cut that one. I don’t want that to get out. I’m just saying I feel like Kyrie got more skill,” he added.
Irving’s numbers in six seasons may not be at par with Iverson’s stats. The former Duke standout averaged 21.6 points, 5.6 assists and 3.4 rebounds, while the 2001 NBA MVP normed 26.7 points, 5.6 assists and 3.4 rebounds in his 14-year career.
The Cavs guard, though, owns one title and three NBA Finals appearances compared to Iverson, who lost in his lone appearance in the championship stage when the Philadelphia Sixers bowed to the LA Lakers in five games in 2001.
The retired NBA great, though, had nothing but respect for the Warriors star, even as Durant clarified his comments were not meant as a slight to Iverson.
Iverson, who plays in the BIG3, was rooting for the Warriors precisely because he wanted Durant to win his first title, as shown in a video posted by the 3x3 league organized by celebrity Ice Cube on their Twitter account.
While watching the Warriors clinch the title, Iverson was shown in a phone conversation praising Durant for achieving what he never did in his career.
“I love Kyrie. I love Tyronn Lue… but I wanted to see Durant win, because he ain’t never did it,” he said. “I love his mama, I love everything he stands for. That’s the only reason I was going for Golden State.”
I wanted Durant to feel what I never got the chance to feel. And they deserved it,” added Iverson.
You want to know how Allen Iverson feels about Kevin Durant? pic.twitter.com/k2Au5Rdin3— BIG3 (@thebig3) June 14, 2017