Suns forward Kevin Durant, center, holds his jersey after being...

Suns forward Kevin Durant, center, holds his jersey after being introduced during a press conference wuth owner Mat Ishbia, left, and general manager James Jones on Thursday in Phoenix. Credit: AP/Matt York

Kevin Durant was introduced as a Sun on Thursday at what mostly was a festive pep rally/news conference in Phoenix. But he teared up while recalling his time in Brooklyn and its bitter end.

“I love those guys,” Durant said of the Nets. “I get emotional talking about it, because that was a special four years of my career, coming off a [torn] Achilles, and they helped me through a lot.”

But it was not enough to prevent the disintegration of the Nets as we knew them for 3 1⁄2 years, not after Kyrie Irving requested and received a trade to Dallas on Feb. 6.

Soon thereafter, Durant asked out, too, and he was traded to the Suns on Feb. 9, ending the Nets’ Big 3 era that once included James Harden.

“I was upset that we couldn’t finish,” said Durant, who led the Nets to an 18-2 run before suffering a knee injury. “I thought we had some good momentum. We were finally building the culture that we always wanted.”

But he said he was unaware of what was going on with Irving, who sought a long-term contract and did not get one, prompting the trade.

“It was a blow to our team,” Durant said, speaking publicly for the first time since he and Irving left New York. “It took away our identity. He was a huge part of what we do. He’s a Hall of Fame player, a great, great player who can do everything on the floor. And we relied on that.

“So without him, we didn’t have a clear identity. That was tough for me to stomach.”

Durant said he enjoyed his teammates, but once Irving left, he “just tried to move forward as quickly as I can and try to figure something out for myself . . . It all happened so fast, but I’m glad it worked out this way.”

Regarding his time in Brooklyn, Durant said, “I built a family over there. They’re going to always be a part of my journey.

“We didn’t accomplish what we wanted to accomplish as far as winning a championship, but I enjoy the grind. And everybody there, we tried our hardest every day, regardless of what was going on in the media, what was going on with our teammates.

“It was terrible how some stuff went down, but at the end of the day, I love the grind and we all love the grind there in Brooklyn and I wish them the best going forward. They’ve got a bright future.”

Why didn’t it work out?

“We just didn’t get on the court enough,” he said. “I think when you saw James, Kyrie and myself, it was amazing basketball — for 17 [actually 16] games, though. In order for you to win a championship and be a great team, you need more time on the floor. It’s another story about why we didn’t get on the floor together, but we just didn’t get enough time on the floor.

“Those are Hall of Fame players that I learned a lot from every day, and I’m wishing them the best as well. It just didn’t work out.”

More Brooklyn Nets

YOU'VE BEEN SELECTED

FOR OUR BEST OFFER ONLY 25¢ for 5 months

Unlimited Digital Access.

cancel anytime.