NEW YORK -- When Kevin Durant makes his regular-season debut for the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday night, the former league MVP said that he doesn't anticipate an added rush of emotions or higher stakes because he will be playing his former team, the Golden State Warriors.
"I feel like each game is important to me," Durant said. "And it's no more important to me because I am playing against my old teammates. I just feel like the game of basketball is going to have me on that level anyway and it's going to be good to see some of my old teammates."
During his tenure with Golden State, which spanned from 2016 to 2019, Durant won two Finals MVP trophies and two championships with the franchise. With Durant, the Warriors never missed the NBA Finals -- bringing their total to five consecutive Finals appearances. The 2019 Finals, though, became synonymous with Durant tearing his Achilles. In free agency less than a month after the injury, Durant signed with the Nets.
Durant said Monday that he didn't join Brooklyn in search of building a team on his own, rather than working alongside an already dominant squad.
"I feel like every team I've been a part of, I left my mark on each team," Durant said. "I understand what I bring to the table and I never looked at it as mine. I never looked at the Nets as mine ... And when I was with the Warriors, nobody on our team felt like it was one guy's chance to take this whole thing over or to have one singular voice. It's always been the group."
Durant continued: "I try not to make myself bigger than the group. But I know what I add to a basketball club and I felt that way with the Warriors. So, it wasn't about me going to the Nets to try to prove that I can make my own thing, whatever the hell that means. It is just that I'm coming here to play basketball and add to a group of great guys."
The season opener, Durant said, is a chance to see some familiar faces and continue to test his post-Achilles surgery body. Durant, who spent the past year and a half rehabbing his Achilles, said that viewing Tuesday's matchup as a chance for closure is too simplistic.
"Injuries happen in this league," Durant said. "I had a tough one, but I wouldn't blame that on anybody and I don't need this game or for me to play well or win this game to feel like I have closure on that situation. If winning a basketball game is gonna give me closure for three years then I really didn't have a good time there I guess."
Since training camp, Durant has maintained that he wasn't ready to make any sweeping declarations on getting back to his pre-injury self. Instead, he said that each preseason game was a good opportunity to gauge where he is physically and how he can adjust his treatment processes to be playing his best basketball by the playoffs.
He admitted that he was nervous heading into each of Brooklyn's two preseason games. Ahead of the regular season, though, Durant said those nerves have faded and he's getting more comfortable on the court with each game and practice.
"I've always been comfortable with a basketball in my hands," Durant said. "But physically, not being able to run up and down a court, it's going to take me more than two or three games to feel like I'm in the swing of things. So I'm looking forward to exercising my mind and my body when I got there."