Nets’ Kevin Durant grabs gold, then cashes in
Superstar inks reported four-year, $198 million extension
Kevin Durant spent the weekend celebrating his record-tying third gold medal with the United States Olympic men’s basketball team in Tokyo, Japan.
Then, the Brooklyn Nets’ superstar forward got back to the business of grabbing his third NBA championship and our borough’s first major pro sports title since 1955.
The Nets announced Sunday that Durant, arguably the best player of his generation, inked a reported four-year, $198 million extension to remain in Brooklyn, marking general manager Sean Marks’ first move in keeping his Big Three together for the foreseeable future.
With Kyrie Irving and James Harden eligible to sign extensions as well this offseason, having Durant locked up for the next four years makes it easier for Marks to re-sell Brooklyn to his other two superstars.
“Kevin is a transcendent talent who continues to drive and push this franchise and the game of basketball globally,” Marks said in a team-issued statement.
“We are thrilled to continue our partnership with him for years to come.”
Durant likely ended his involvement with Team USA, but did so in typically dominant fashion.
The all-time leading scorer in Olympic men’s basketball history and the only other player beside Brooklyn-born Carmelo Anthony to hear his anthem atop the podium three times, Durant poured in 29 points in Friday’s 87-82 win over France in the gold medal game.
The title was the Americans’ fourth in a row in Olympic play and Durant’s third straight with Team USA, which he led in scoring in 2012, 2016 and this summer.
The victory also avenged the Americans’ lone loss in Olympic play since 2004, a tournament-opening defeat to the French.
“This is one of those special journeys,” Durant said before celebrating long into the night with teammates and staff members.
“When you’re a part of a team that’s evolving by the second, it’s amazing to see. Each game we continued to grow. I’m grateful we all committed to it, we stuck with it and we finished it off.”
Now, the two-time NBA Finals MVP would love to finish off a Nets season with a championship, something the franchise hasn’t enjoyed since grabbing a couple of American Basketball Association titles in the 1970s.
But that will likely take the return of both Harden and Irving, neither of whom was healthy enough to help the Nets get past eventual NBA champion Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference semifinals two months ago.
Though he was initially limited during his first season of participation here after sitting out all of the 2019-20 campaign while recovering from an Achilles injury, Durant put up 26.9 points per contest over 35 regular-season games before averaging a team postseason record 34.3 during the playoffs.
“We know who he is. Kevin Durant will establish his legacy in Brooklyn as one of the greatest ever. On behalf of the Nets organization, my family and our fans, we are excited and humbled to see a lot of Kevin for years to come.” said Marks.
“Kevin’s impact both on and off the court cannot be overstated. His unparalleled drive and leadership generate sustained excellence from himself while also elevating the performance of his teammates, positioning this organization to continue the pursuit of our championship goals in Brooklyn.”
Those goals can be pursued both during and beyond the 2021-22 season now that Durant has made it clear that he is all in for Brooklyn for the next four years.
NOTHING BUT NET: Though Durant was the first order of business, Marks was very busy the past week, re-signing Blake Griffin and Bruce Brown while bringing in veteran Patty Mills from San Antonio. Marks also signed up first-round picks Cam Thomas and Day’Ron Sharpe. Brown indicated that he was eager to return to the playoffs with the Nets and make good on the team’s goal of winning a championship. “I was real salty all summer, I’m gonna be honest,” said Brown. “I didn’t watch no basketball. I was just pissed that we lost. I just can’t wait to get back there and then win. I didn’t sleep the night after the game at all. I went and tried to golf the next day which was a terrible decision. So yeah, I just can’t wait to get back.” … In Nets Summer League action from Monday, Thomas put up 17 points in a 91-84 loss to Memphis in Las Vegas. “My first pro game,” said Thomas. “I didn’t play in the G-League like some of these guys or play in the pros. You know, this is my first pro game, so I’m just getting a feel for everything, came off the bench. So I just had to get a rhythm, get a flow for everything. Once I got a nice rhythm, I felt like I was pretty, you know, just basketball from there on.”