Over the weekend, Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant and Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young got into a little friendly back-and-forth. In a tightly contested matchup that came down to the wire, KD and Trae exchanged a little friendly banter and some really weak fisticuffs as KD guarded the Hawks star.
It was really nothing but two competitors trying to will their teams to a win in the NBA Eastern Conference, where only four and a half games separate the top-seeded Nets (19-8) and eighth-seeded Hornets (15-13).
Following the slight skirmish KD had this to say about Young
“He wanted to get me out of his space and I understand that. I’ve known Trae since he was 10 years old. That’s the spirit of the game. I’ve got nothing but respect for Trae Young.”
Kevin Durant and Trae Young exchange words.
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) December 11, 2021
Young then responded with the motto “Idols become your rivals. #AlwaysLove.”
— Trae Young (@TheTraeYoung) December 11, 2021
Durant Has Been Mentor To Younger Players: Trae Young Was One Of Them
Following in the footsteps of the incomparable Kobe Bryant, KD has long been a mentor for the next generation of NBA players. Trae Young was one of those players. Young grew up in Oklahoma, and frequently attended Oklahoma City Thunder games. At the time, Durant was lighting up the scoreboard nightly at Chesapeake Energy Arena in OKC.
Durant gave his take about mentoring younger players back in 2019.
Kevin Durant on being a mentor to younger players pic.twitter.com/doWP2YOxBw
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) January 26, 2019
“Like J. Cole said, I feel like I’m a middle child,” Durant said. “Still feel young, but I’m 30 years old, and you got guys coming in at 18, 19, so it’s a pretty weird place to be in. But I guess it’s cool to see young players want to pattern their game after me, as how I play it, but I don’t even know what to think about it. … It’s still crazy, I can just remember being drafted and going to high school and all that stuff like it was yesterday. So that’s how fast life moves if you’re having fun.”
Durant Played Role In Young Choosing Oklahoma For College
After a successful high school career in Oklahoma, which included Young also leading the MOKAN Elite AAU (along with Michael Porter Jr.) to the EYBL title after his junior season, Young decided to stay home and ball out for the Sooners.
Trae Young was ALL BUCKETS at the 2016 Nike Peach Jan! Him and MPJ led Mokan Elite to the blowout win the championship game! pic.twitter.com/yPhqKcgTYE
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) September 13, 2020
The offers were there from the blue bloods like Kansas, Duke, Kentucky. Young, however, decided to stay home after talks with his parents and some influence from KD, Russell Westbrook and even former Sooners great Buddy Hield, who was a senior at that time at Oklahoma.
— Trae Young (@TheTraeYoung) April 12, 2017
KD’s words really resonated with Young. The Slim Reaper told the young gunner who was drawing comparisons to Steph Curry, that going to Oklahoma would allow Durant to come see him play.
Young Reflects On Durant’s Advice
“KD was one of the first people who texted me congrats and that I made a great choice after I committed,” Young said in 2017. “He’s always going to be a supporter of mine. He even said he’ll attend some games, that’s how much of a supporter he is. He’s a really great supporter of me, and I really look up to him.”
Even after Young was drafted, Durant would reach out to encourage Young and to give him pointers on how to handle the media.
It’s safe to say that the mentoring and support has helped facilitate Young’s development into one of the best and most charismatic young players in the NBA. His 2021 playoff run (where he became a villain in many arenas, especially Madison Square Garden) was one to remember. It was almost to Reggie Miller levels in some of those games.
TRAE YOUNG TAKES A BOW IN MSG AFTER ELIMINATING KNICKS. 🍿👀 pic.twitter.com/L6i5A0S65H
— House of Highlights (@HoHighlights) June 3, 2021
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