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GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS MEDIA CONFERENCE
July 7, 2016
BOB FITZGERALD: Thanks for coming out. This is a great day for the Golden State Warriors, a great day for the NBA, and really somebody truly significant that we are proud to share with all of you. I'm Bob Fitzgerald, the Warriors' TV announcer. I want to welcome those of you watching on CSN Bay Area, those of you listening on KNBR.
We want to welcome our owner Joe Lacob who is here; our president Rick Welts is here; and Kevin Durant's people, Wayne Pratt, his father, is here; Rayvonne Lee, his brother, is here; Rich Kleiman, his agent; Charlie Bell, his business manager; and Thomas Avie (ph), who handles all his security.
We have the 2015 executive of the year, the GM of the Warriors, Bob Myers; the 2016 Coach of the Year, Steve Kerr; and the Rookie of the Year, an Olympic gold medalist, a four-time scoring champion, a seven-time All-Star, an MVP of the league, Kevin Durant, who actually admitted he was a little nervous. As good as he is, would you be nervous, ever?
Start with you, Bob. Pursuing an elite player and adding to a roster that has gone 73-9, won a championship, tell us about wanting Kevin Durant, how he fits, and having him select the Warriors.
BOB MYERS: I still can't believe I'm sitting next to him to be honest. Our job, my job, Joe and I talk all year long, but basically we just try to -- myself with the rest of the front office, we just try to get better every time we -- every day we wake up, and you never expect to get this much better. But yeah, I mean, Kevin Durant, we love people that love to play basketball. We love people that are high-character people, and you can't find a better embodiment of that than the guy sitting next to me.
We all can dream. Most of the time the dreams don't come true, but I've admired Kevin as a basketball fan, just as somebody who loves basketball, watching him play. So honestly, Bob, to be totally honest, until he called me and told me he was coming, I didn't think he was coming.
But we did the best we could. We tried and we met, and we were hopeful that he would recognize us as a team that would be a team he could succeed with and enjoy going to work every day with and just love being a part of this organization.
So we're thrilled. I'm thrilled. What I'm most excited about is when you don't play for us, you don't get to see guys play as much, but I get to see our team play all the time. I'm just excited to watch you play. I'm so honored that you're here, and I'm so honored you chose us to play for. It's a wonderful feeling, so thank you.
BOB FITZGERALD: Steve, the style that you've encouraged in terms of unselfishness and good shots becoming great shots, being the leading scoring team, being an elite defensive team, basketball-wise, how does Kevin Durant fit in with the Warriors and that incredibly talented core that was already here?
STEVE KERR: Well, I haven't made the decision yet, but he might start. I think it's safe to say Kevin would fit into any style, but I think with our players, the guys that we have already, and Kevin could probably talk more about this, I think that was attractive to him to be able to play with Draymond and Steph and Klay, because of the way those guys play. We have guys who are not just shooters, not just ball handlers. We kind of have a bunch of basketball players, and that's what's made our team really good the last couple years.
So to add another guy who is so talented and not just a shooter or not just a defender, he's a basketball player, and we think the style fits him perfectly. We think he suits us perfectly, and the combination of all these guys playing together should be a lot of fun to watch.
BOB FITZGERALD: KD, you wrote that the last two weeks have been some of the most challenging of your life and that this decision reflected your basketball career but also your growth as a man. Tell people about these two weeks and just anything that jumped out at you and how that whole process went.
KEVIN DURANT: Oh, it's been hectic. You know, there's a lot of attention that comes with being in this position, and I knew that. When I met these guys, I felt as comfortable as I've ever felt. It was organic, it was authentic, it was real, and it was feelings I couldn't ignore. I made a decision to come and play for these guys, and I feel great, and I feel excited about this opportunity.
BOB FITZGERALD: When you look at your relationships in international play, even with Steph Curry and Andre Iguodala, you're playing against a Draymond Green, a Klay Thompson, they wanted you and welcomed you. How much of the personality fit was important as well as the basketball fit for you?
KEVIN DURANT: I was shocked that those four guys came to meet me a couple of days ago. The team won 73 games and a championship before. I didn't think they would be interested in a player like me because they've had so much success. But to see them together, they all walked in and it looked like they were holding hands. It was just a family.
I could tell they enjoyed being around each other, and like I said, that was something I couldn't ignore. It was just a great vibe throughout the whole day. I'm glad I'm here, man. Like I said, I'm excited, and I'm just ready to play ball.
BOB FITZGERALD: Steve, you're having a little fun with Kevin. His career high is 54 against the Warriors, and he had 30 plus in the first half in a game at Oracle before he twinged his ankle a little bit. You said your defense got much better after Kevin wasn't on the floor. Having to stop him and now having to use him, I would think that's a nice turn of events.
STEVE KERR: Yeah, and then the other factor is everybody talks offense all the time. We had a pretty tough time in the Playoffs with Kevin's length and versatility defensively, and of course that's kind of been our calling card as a defense the last couple years, the versatility, the ability to switch, and Kevin fits perfectly into that style.
It really does feel like it should be seamless, and that probably won't be the case. There's always some bumps. But it does feel like it's a perfect fit at both ends and that we should hit the ground running, and that's the hope.
BOB FITZGERALD: Bob, as you put a roster together, you always talk talent evaluation, but the people, and you mention Kevin as a person, his reputation in the league and just how he's viewed among basketball, did that click right away in pursuing him and seeing that he would fit in the Warrior organization as a person and with the Bay Area and with the team?
BOB MYERS: I got lucky; when Kevin and his agent Rich Kleiman called me and said he was coming, I said, can I come out there right now, so I got to spend the last couple days with him and I got to know his father, brother, got to know Rich Kleiman really well and I got to know Kevin a little bit. I didn't know him. I knew who I thought he was, and the best thing I can say is he is actually better. It's rare to meet someone of Kevin's stature and to have them exceed your expectations because I think the whole league and fans of basketball know who you are and know what you're about, but to get up close, most of the time you're disappointed, to be frank, but I was -- like I said, he's better than I thought.
Like I said, I mean, we try when we put a team together to have people that are high-quality, care about each other, unselfish, and most importantly, just love going to work every day and playing basketball.
All Kevin wants to talk about is basketball, and that's fantastic because being around people that are passionate about what they do, it's enjoyable, being around somebody that wants to talk about how he can fit into our team. The only problem we had was I told him Steve wasn't going to play him 39 minutes, and he wants to play more, but they can figure that out. But it's been tremendous, and everybody in the NBA would be lucky to have a guy like this on their team.
BOB FITZGERALD: Kevin, you talked about your growth as a basketball player. Third highest scoring average in NBA history. The other two guys have first names, Wilt, Michael, you. Eight rebounds a game, actually led the Thunder a year ago in rebounding, and then Steve mentioned the defense in the Playoffs where your length, your shot blocking at the rim was incredible. What do you want for the next stage basketball-wise as player? We know you can score like breathing, but what else are you really looking for in this next stage?
KEVIN DURANT: I really don't know. I just want to go out there and whatever I need to work on I'm sure is going to avail itself. But I want to keep getting better. I want to learn from these guys. I want to come in and lead as best as I can and just be myself. I don't know what's going to get better throughout the year, it's just going to happen. That's how I approach the game. I play with instinct and real spontaneous when I'm out there, so whatever it is, man, I'm just trying to grow and get better and enjoy playing the game.
BOB FITZGERALD: Steve, the way the Warriors play, you said Kevin is a perfect fit there. Do you see a way a team can deal with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green in that unselfishness, in that movement? I mean, offensively this should be one of the most exciting offensive teams that the league has seen.
STEVE KERR: Well, that's the idea. That was the idea behind bringing him here. We knew what kind of team we already had. We knew we could get better, and we lost in The Finals. We want to get better. Bob said it, we want to get better every year, but we lost in The Finals this year. We want to do better.
You can't do much better -- you can't do any better than adding KD to the current crew, and our staff is excited. We're already talking about different ways we can put the pieces together, and it's going to be a lot of fun once we get rolling.
Q. Kevin, our minds are already going crazy with the possibilities with the Warriors, but I know you were deeply rooted in Oklahoma City, too. How difficult a decision was this for you over the last several weeks?
KEVIN DURANT: Oh, it was difficult. Being in a place for so long and the relationships that I've built, it was hard. You know, I went back and forth for two or three days, and it was tough. Like I said, I've been there for so long, but this new journey I'm excited for, I'm looking forward to. Those nine years you can't erase. That love doesn't fade. Those memories don't erase.
It's always going to be a part of who I am, but this next step in my life, I want to conquer it and get better every single day.
Q. Kevin, you talked about the last two weeks being intense. There's a lot of layers to a decision like this, but when you get near the end and you got clarity, what thoughts and emotions drove you to the decision the most?
KEVIN DURANT: I just felt like this group of guys, when they came in to see me, everything was real. You know, you hear on the outside looking in, you hear nothing but great things about this organization, and you never know how it is until you get face-to-face with these guys, but to see Steph, Klay, Andre, Draymond walk in the house I was at, I could tell they were about business.
Like I said, they were a huge family walking in. Everybody was excited, and the conversation was just -- it was just effortless. It was a great fit, and I felt like this was the best fit for me.
Q. Kevin, in your letter that you wrote describing your decision to come to the Warriors, you mentioned some things about your growth as an individual, as a man and so forth. Could you elaborate on what you mean in terms of what this area might be able to help you with in that area?
KEVIN DURANT: I was more speaking on making a decision that I want to make. In this life you tend to base things on the outside crowd and opinions of everybody else, so I tried not to worry about that and sit down and focus on what I wanted as a player and as a person, and I figured this was the best place for me.
Q. This is obviously a big moment in your career and in your life, but what is your message to those that will vilify you for the decision that you made to come here?
KEVIN DURANT: I can't control that. All I can control is how I come to work every single day and what I do to help this team win. I knew that was a part of this whole deal. That's just the life we live. But every single day all I can control is how I work. I can't really worry about the outside noise.
Q. What was your conversation like with Jerry West? A lot has been made out of that. But maybe what were some of the things you asked him and some of the things he shed light on for you?
KEVIN DURANT: We just talked about the Warriors and how I would be a great fit and how I would love the guys and the whole organization. Nothing more than that. I know it's Jerry West and I know he's the logo, and you're expecting a sexier conversation, but it was more so about the team and how I could fit in and how great the coaching staff was. Yeah, so that's just about it.
Q. Kevin, after your last game here you said that these three guys up front were going to be the guys you made the decision with. Did you really delve in with your father and the two guys here, or did you come up on the final decision yourself, and when did you make that decision and what was that call like to OKC?
KEVIN DURANT: Yeah, we sat down and we went through the pros and cons of every team, every situation. We looked at it all. But they were here to support me, to be there for me. You know, I trusted them, and I think the 3rd, the night before 4th of July, we were talking and I was just torn, and I told them I wanted to sleep on it, and when I woke up, I woke up about 7:00 in the morning, and I walked in their rooms, they were all asleep, and I woke them up, and I just said, I want to go to the Warriors. We all gave each other hugs and we moved on from there. We knew a lot of tension was going to come with it, but we just stuck to what I wanted to do, and we moved on.
That call to Oklahoma City was the hardest thing to do I've ever had to do in my life. Tears were shed, but this is, like I said, a new journey for me, testing the unknown, and I trusted it. I trusted my gut. I trusted my instincts. It's the unpopular decision, but I can live with it.
Q. Kevin, you said you're not going to listen to the outside noise. You alluded to the unpopular decision. What is your response to those who are saying that you're trying to take a shortcut to a championship?
KEVIN DURANT: Nothing in this league is easy. There's no shortcuts. We've still got 82 games to play. It's an adjustment period.
I think this is the hardest road because I don't know anybody here. I've never lived in this community, never played for this team, and I took a leap. Steph was one guy that said, texted me a couple days before, just trust what we're saying. It took me a couple hours to really think about that, and it's hard for me to just trust somebody I just met and just talked to and making this huge change, but like I said, I went with my gut and my instincts and I trusted the situation, and it's not the easy situation because I'm out of my comfort zone. Like I said, I'm looking forward to learning and getting better every single day, and I know it's going to be ups and downs throughout the season. I know we're expected to be perfect every single day, but I know that's not realistic. I'm super excited, man. I'm pumped to get started.
Q. A lot of people have expressed resentment about you joining the Warriors as if you've done something morally wrong. Do you feel guilty?
KEVIN DURANT: No. I mean, we live in this superhero comic book world where either you're a villain or you're a superhero if you're in this position, and I know that, and I know I haven't changed as a person. I don't treat people any differently because I made the decision to play basketball in another city. I understand the fans in Oklahoma City and basketball fans around the world are, I guess, upset, but like I said, I made the decision based upon what I wanted to do and how I felt, and it's the best decision for me, so I can't really control how you feel. I'm sorry you feel that way, but I'm going to continue to live my life. Life goes on, and I've got a short amount of time left to play basketball. I just want to enjoy every single day of it.
Q. We first started hearing about and maybe writing about this possibility two years ago, maybe even longer than that. When did this possibility, you coming to the Warriors, first kind of enter your mind seriously? Was it that long ago maybe? Was it a progression in your mind to kind of convince yourself that this was the right place over a long period of time?
KEVIN DURANT: I think it was 7:00 on July 4th I knew this was a possibility. I've been in Oklahoma City for eight years, been with the organization for nine years, and it was like the toughest day of my life. But you know, I figured that it was a time for me to try something new and try a new challenge, and there's no better place to do it than here.
Q. How big a factor were the relationships you had with players on this team before you made this decision? Like does it happen without Draymond? Does it happen without some of the other guys on the team?
KEVIN DURANT: I wanted to see those guys face-to-face, so the meeting that they had was very important. I wanted to look Steph in his eyes and ask him how he felt about a guy like me joining this team and the rest of the guys and Klay. Klay, I didn't even expect him to be here. I didn't think --
BOB FITZGERALD: We didn't, either. You never know.
KEVIN DURANT: He texted me. I didn't know he had a phone. (Laughter.) So he exceeded my expectations as a person.
But yeah, those guys, like I said, they came in, it felt like they were hand in hand and they just wanted to let me know how much I fit in with their group personality-wise. They're different guys, but they all come together and make it work. Like I said, it was natural. It was authentic, and it was real. I just felt like I needed to be a part of it.
Q. How important specifically was your relationship with Andre Iguodala? It was reported that he got very emotional in that meeting, and also Ron Adams, sitting to my right here, how important was your relationship with him because you've spoken very highly of him in the past?
KEVIN DURANT: Ron Adams was the only reason why I came. (Laughter.)
But Andre was huge. He spilled it out. He said that it would be the most fun you'll have in your life, and the guys all love to play basketball, they love each other, they love the environment, and he was just real, man, and I believed him. He was genuine.
And Ron, he just -- playing under him for a couple of years in OKC, he just taught me so much about the game of basketball. I'm excited to get back on the floor with him, as well.
BOB FITZGERALD: Bob, when does Ron Adams' extension kick in?
BOB MYERS: Yeah, we're going to talk about that in 15 minutes. (Laughter.)
Q. You talked about your existing relationships with members of the Warriors. Three fifths of the starting lineup, assuming Steve starts you, will be on the Olympic team, and I'm wondering how much that will -- that experience will go toward bonding, getting the chemistry going, kind of jump starting next season.
KEVIN DURANT: Well, it definitely helps. It helps, just being around Klay and Draymond for a month. I know what that experience is like and I know how close it brought me and a few guys in 2012, so to have two teammates part of this experience with me, it's going to be amazing, just getting to know them outside of basketball. I know all about them on the basketball court, but as people I'm looking forward to getting to know them even more.
Q. You're coming to a team with a different style, kind of unique style of play. How is that adjustment going to work? How long is it going to take, and how hard is it going to be to make that adjustment?
KEVIN DURANT: However long it takes. I don't want to put a time limit on it, but I'm a veteran player in this league and I feel like I know the game pretty well. I've still got a lot to learn, but I'm going to listen as much as I can and try to get things as quickly as possible and just be me, man. They told me just to be myself. I don't want to go out there and try to be extra vocal or be too quiet or not shoot the shots that I normally shoot. I just want to be myself and enjoy this process, and I know it's going to take some time because it's all fresh and new, but it's going to be all worth it.
Q. Have you had a chance to talk to Russell Westbrook yet, and also, what could you say about where that relationship truly was at the end of your tenure there?
KEVIN DURANT: Yeah, I talked to him. I talked to him. It's tough. Obviously we were teammates for so long and I had a lot of great memories. I'm sure he wasn't happy about the decision, but he respected it as my friend.
And the relationship was great. You know, we had great years, something that you'll never take away from us. But like I said, I wanted a new chapter in my life. I felt like it was time for it, and I made the decision. I couldn't consider totally everybody's feelings at this point because it would be hard to, so I just tried to focus on me but also realize the relationships that I had I still wanted those to be -- I'm sure they won't be the same, but I still wanted to go out there and leave with some class and some dignity, but hopefully I did, hopefully he understands, and I'm sure we'll talk again.
Q. This is Steph Curry's country; what makes you comfortable coming to play with him, and what did he say to you to make you feel like he was welcoming to you?
KEVIN DURANT: He doesn't care about that stuff from what it feels like. He just wants to play. He wants to win. He's a point guard. It's not like I play the same position as him and we have to figure out how we're going to play together. I think it would be his players' game. He wants to pass. But I think we complement each other because we both can play off the basketball. We both can shoot, both can make plays. You know, it is what it is. I know he was excited. He just texted me right before I walked up here, so he's looking forward to it, as well.
Q. You had mentioned not having any connections here and not knowing anyone. Is there anything on your checklist that you're looking forward to doing as a new California resident, and that extends also to your mom?
KEVIN DURANT: It's been, what, three days since I've been a part of this team. No, we'll see. I've got a busy summer ahead with the Olympic team, so I'm sure when that's over I'll figure all that stuff out. But just excited to be a part of this organization and play with these great players and play in front of these unbelievable fans and try to do the best I can as a player to help win games.
STEVE KERR: I just wanted to say one more thing. Just as we've talked about how much Kevin is going to miss Oklahoma City and the people and the relationships that he built there, I know I speak on behalf of Bob and Joe and our entire organization when I say how much we're going to miss the players who are moving on now as a result of the shift in the roster. I want to say thank you to Andre Bogut, Harrison Barnes, Leandro Barbosa, Brandon Rush and Festus Ezeli. It's a lot of really good people who are moving on who helped us win a championship and helped create what is here and what is represented by a lot of these photos on the walls here.
But this is the NBA, and players move on, players play for different teams, teams try to get better. It's all kind of part of the business as we know, but it's always important to just remember the relationships that have been built and the fact that those don't change once people change uniforms.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports