Apparently, they planned to join forces well before that.
Durant, Irving and DeAndre Jordan had a similar experience with the 2016 Olympics. Team USA spent the Rio Games on a cruise ship called the Silver Cloud.
There were endless conversations about basketball, including how LeBron James had orchestrated his own “friend group” in Miami with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh that yielded two titles. One of the final nights on the Silver Cloud, as Ky, KD and DJ clinked glasses, Jordan recalls Irving saying, “Hey, this would be cool to do for real.”
“I asked him, ‘What you mean by that?'” Jordan says, “and Ky said, ‘Let’s all get on the same team and play together.'”
It’s cool for Durant, Irving and Jordan they made this happen with the Nets three years later.
It’s also worth remembering: Players often talk about teaming up. Those plans come to fruition far less frequently.
This isn’t even the most famous toast about a big-name trio. At Carmelo Anthony’s wedding, Chris Paul toasted to forming a big three with Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire. Anthony ultimately forced his way from the Nuggets to Stoudemire’s Knicks, but Paul never joined them. That’s how it usually goes.
So, you could use this Rio anecdote to question Durant’s commitment to the Warriors (Draymond Green certainly did), Irving’s commitment to the Cavaliers and Celtics (plenty of questions in both Cleveland and Boston) and even Jordan’s commitment to the Mavericks (Jordan’s effort in Dallas was questionable, but his other teams – Clippers and Knicks – were different as potential Durant-Irving destinations).
I think that’s the wrong narrative, though. Just because Irving, Durant and Jordan once talked about teaming up doesn’t mean it was inevitable – just as it wasn’t inevitable Paul, Anthony and Stoudemire would team up just because they talked about it. Sometimes, among all the unlikelihoods, one becomes reality.