In advance of Friday's Game 6 between the Thunder and Rockets, Kevin Durant dismissed Twitter trash talk from Royce White, who has yet to make his NBA debut after spending months engaged in a dispute with management over the treatment of his mental health.
Following Oklahoma City's 107-100 loss to Houston in Game 5 on Wednesday, Houston's rookie forward wrote to Durant: "Y'all are looking SHAAAKYY BAAABYY." That tweet followed another one: "That Thunder team just looked shook."
Durant responded to the comments, which he said he hadn't read, after Friday's shootaround.
“Who is that?” Durant asked, according to The Oklahoman. “I haven’t seen him on the bench. I haven’t seen him on the bench. So, I mean, I’m not worried about guys that’s not even in our series. Ain’t that the guy that’s afraid to fly? Well I wish him the best, man, and if I see him next year I’ll let him know who were are.”
The Houston Chronicle reported that Durant didn't view the comments as inspiration or bulletin board material.
“I don’t get fired up off stuff,” Durant said, according to the paper. “I get fired up just playing this game, enjoying the game. Like I said, I wish him the best. I wish he could have played and really felt this intensity for a playoff game, but I guess watching on TV is better.”
On Friday, White replied to Durant's comments in a lengthy series of Twitter messages that included an apology, compliments for Durant's game, blame toward the media for covering his comments and, finally, one more dig, this time at Thunder forward Serge Ibaka.
Don't let the media hype it, I'm just a anxious, hippy, humanist. I don't even play. I meant no harm, You're an amazing player! You guys HAVE been looking #SHAAAKYY lately, BUT, you played good. You're right, [unfortunately] I could only view from home. For now!
It was a joking tweet that got in the media's wheel house, now they ask you. #Propaganda... I was eating a cream sandwich. Bro...it should've never got to your ears, I apologize. my opinion matter about as much as any fan. Just sports media hyping it up! I'll say for the record, (which doesn't really matter)... I don't think Serge could handle me in the open court, just IMO.
White's initial comments to Durant on Wednesday prompted a number of replies to White suggesting that his comments lacked substance given that he isn't currently playing for the Rockets. White laughed those comments off and defended his right to speak his mind.
"It's ALOT of tough B-BALL fans on [Twitter]," he wrote. "I'm a spectator right now, I'll say whatever the f--- I want. Swing when you see me. ... Do [people] ACTUALLY think if they tweet enough I'm going to change? 'Never change when you're winning.' Say what I want... Freedom of speech."
White, the No. 16 pick in the 2012 NBA draft, suffers from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, panic attacks and a fear of flying. He was suspended in January for failing to report to the Rockets' D-League team as he worked toward a resolution regarding treatment of his mental health. He was reinstated in late-January when team and player agreed to add an addendum to his contract addressing his needs.
In March, White prepared to leave his D-League assignment, saying that he was shutting down his season, before later returning. Also in March, White said that he believes executives with the NBA league office and the Rockets "want me gone" from the NBA because his campaigning for mental health awareness wasn't convenient to their business.
Durant hasn't posted on his Twitter account since April 23 and hasn't replied to White's numerous messages on the site. The four-time All-Star is leading the NBA in scoring during the postseason at 33.6 points per game. He finished with 36 points (on 11-for-23 shooting), seven rebounds and seven assists in 45 minutes in Game 5 on Wednesday.
The Thunder now lead the Rockets 3-2 in their Western Conference first-round playoff series. Game 6 is set for Friday in Houston.