Devin Booker, Kevin Durant’s bond a huge part of Phoenix Suns’ journey


INDIANAPOLIS — Kevin Durant and Devin Booker have become more than just teammates in a little more than a year’s time.

They’re brothers.

“We hang out off the floor,” Durant said. “I think that’s most of the battle when you get to know your teammates that deep. We almost to this point where we know what each other’s thinking. I hung out with him a lot since I got to Phoenix this past summer.”

The Suns traded for Durant in a blockbuster deal right before last season’s trade deadline that paired the all-time great up with the team’s franchise player. They have since formed a bond that’s noticeable on the court and felt in their admiration and appreciation for one another.

“We have the same likes in life,” Booker said after Saturday’s West All-Star practice at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. “We’re hoops junkies and that’s where it started. Now we spend a lot more time together, man. We like to kick it, chill. Talk basketball and play video games.”

Representing the Suns this NBA All-Star weekend, Durant and Booker are the only two teammates in the league’s top 10 in scoring. Durant is fifth at 28.2 per game while Booker is eighth at 27.5.

They’re accounting for 40% of Phoenix’s scoring. Both clearly can score, but the chemistry they have off the floor is what makes their union even more special.

“Worked out, obviously, but us hanging out, playing video games, going out and having a drink, all that stuff helps when you trying to gain chemistry,” Durant said.

Add music to their list of common likes.

Durant teamed up with hip hop artist Stalley on ‘Scared Money,” that dropped on social media this weekend.

“I feel like Randy Moss when he was with the Raiders, man they love to hate us, this woman so fine, I give her cash papers.”

Booker’s feeling it.

“Bars,” he said.

The song already has 94,000 views on YouTube in two days, but Durant doubts an album will follow.

“I just do it for fun,”

Then on the court, Booker and Durant are in constant conversation, whether it’s during a game or even at All-Star practice Saturday.

“Just motivating each other,” Booker said. “Challenging each other. He gives me the ultimate confidence to go out there and do what I go to do. No matter win, lose or draw, I feel like I got somebody behind me that wants me to succeed.”

Supporting each other as teammates

Durant said Booker gives him confidence, too, but understands the importance of being that support system for his teammate.

“I feel like we’re both confident players, but when you got that extra support out there to go do what you do, sometimes you need that, especially when you’re one of the lead guys on the team. You focus on so much other stuff.

“Your teammates, the scheme, strategies and sometimes, you need somebody to relieve you of all that other stuff and just tell you to go play. I think that’s what we do for one another.”

Durant says the support extends beyond Booker.

“Also our coaching staff does that for us as well and our teammates,” Durant said. “When you got support like that, it just makes you a way better player.”

The Suns felt they came together as a team during their two-week, seven-game road trip. Having that bond can be instrumental in creating a championship contender. The Suns (33-22) are fifth in the West at the All-Star break.

“When you bank equity with your teammates, it enhances what you do on the court,” Heat All-Star big Bam Adebayo said. “Because at that point, you become another form of your relationship. It’s not just basketball. Y’all are brothers, y’all are friends. Y’all can have conversations so it’s easier to have those tough conversations in the heat of battle. When you bank that equity with somebody, it just helps you as a teammate.”

With Durant, 35, being eight years older than Booker, the foundation of this connection started with Booker as a teenager seeing Durant play.

“He was in a Sonics jersey,” said Booker when asked his first memories of seeing Durant play. Durant spent his rookie season in Seattle before the team moved to Oklahoma City.

“I watched him at Texas. I watched him in high school. I’ve been following him my whole entire life. I can’t remember a certain moment.”

Then when Booker got to the NBA, he left an impression on Durant.

Watching Booker develop into a star

“His first year, he would come and have little spurts,” Durant said. “I know we played them earlier in the season his rookie year. I just remember him having little spurts. He’d hit an open 3 or drive to the rim for a layup. You could just see glimpses and they started playing him more.”

Durant was with Oklahoma City when he saw Booker for the first time as an opponent. The Thunder won, 124-103, over the Suns on Nov. 8, 2015 in Booker’s third game as a pro after a one-and-done season at Kentucky.

Booker didn’t score, missed all three of his shot attempts from the field in 10 minutes of play.

They met again Feb. 8, 2016 in Phoenix with OKC sweeping the home-away series, 122-106, and Booker scoring six points on 1-of-8 shooting in 29 minutes of the rematch.

The next season, Booker scored 21 in 44 minutes of an overtime loss at OKC in October 2016 and 37 points in 38 minutes in a 21-point home victory over the Thunder in Phoenix in April 2017.

“Even though he wasn’t an All-Star, it felt like he was playing like one,” Durant said. “I would say probably his second year, I was like, all right, he’s going to be around for a while.”

Respect earned.

“It was important,” Booker said. “That was my thing going into the league. I wanted to gain respect from the legends and the guys I respected the most. Every time I got to compete with some of the best, I had to give it a little extra physicality, extra push just to let them know I belong here and I’m here to stay.”

They were still more competitors than anything, but became teammates for the first time in Tokyo representing Team USA in the Summer Olympics — and won gold together.

The next year, Durant chose Booker on his team for the 2022 NBA All-Star game as the league was still doing drafts. Durant missed the game due to injury.

Then last year, Phoenix dealt Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Jae Crowder and four future first-round picks to Brooklyn for Durant and T.J. Warren. The Suns finished last season losing to the eventual NBA champion Denver Nuggets in six games of the Western Conference semifinals.

Durant and Booker coming together to lead the new-look Suns

The franchise proceeded to shake up its team starting with the firing of Monty Williams and hiring of Frank Vogel as new head coach. They then traded away Chris Paul in acquiring Bradley Beal, moved Cameron Payne, dealt Deandre Ayton and signed players to veteran minimums, leaving Josh Okogie, Damion Lee, Saben Lee, Booker and Durant as the only returnees from last season’s team.

While all of that was going on in the offseason, Booker and Durant were traveling together, bonding and building even more chemistry.

“It’s been great getting to know him,” Durant said about Booker.

Booker has found himself having future Hall of Famers as teammates in Jamal Crawford in the 2018-19 season, Chris Paul from 2020-23 and now Durant. Not many players can make that claim of sharing the court with three players of that caliber, something Booker truly appreciates.

“Those guys are the blueprint,” Booker said. “They’ve done this already and the crazy part is, they’re still hungry and they’re still doing it. That’s the common theme amongst them all. I try to chop it up with them and talk history, but you can tell they’re still in the moment. They haven’t even realized what they’ve done and the marks they’ve put on this game. They’ve done stuff that’s forever that’s going to be here when we’re all gone. Those are the guys.”

Durant has been the face of the NBA along with LeBron James and Stephen Curry. With them being on the back end of their careers, Durant was asked who is next in line to take on that mantle.

Durant first added James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George to the list of players who have inspired a generation of athletes to follow. He then addressed the question by naming several players who can impact the game the same way with Booker being one of them.

“I look around the league and you see Shai (Gilgeous-Alexander), Ant (Anthony Edwards), Book, Luka (Doncic), Tyrese Maxey, Tyrese Haliburton.

There’s so many guys that are inspiring the next generation of hoopers after them to become basketball players that you just can’t pinpoint it to one or two guys. It’s about pushing the game forward, setting a different standard of how we play and these guys are doing it right now.”

Have opinions about the current state of the Suns? Reach Suns Insider Duane Rankin at or contact him at 480-787-1240. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, at @DuaneRankin.

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