In an interview on NBC Sports Radio's The Chris Mannix Show, Kevin Durant touched on a host of fascinating subjects. Most notably, his public disagreement with Heat guard Dwyane Wade over Wade's place in The Point Forward's list of the NBA's top 10 players.
Last week, an interview with Cinesport.com, Durant pointed out that former Thunder guard James Harden was notably absent from our top 10 list, and mentioned that he would remove Wade to make room for Harden. Wade took issue with that opinion, Durant responded in kind, and their disagreement took on a life of its own. Mannix looked to clarify Durant's view on the ordeal:
Chris Mannix: I've gotta ask you about the firestorm with James Harden and Dwyane Wade and all that nonsense that was out there. You tweeted at me the other day, you said, 'Don't buy into this beef Chris, it's not a real beef.' Let me ask you this, in this way: Were you surprised it became the story that it did?
Kevin Durant: To be honest, I forgot all about it, I forgot that I said that until I checked on Twitter. A lot of Heat fans tweeted me and said not so nice things, which was expected. But I wasn't trying to disrespect D-Wade in any type of way or discredit anything he's done. He's a champion, their team is a champion. I can't say anything about their team. I can't. They beat us in the Finals and they won back-to-back. I can't say anything about their team. Basically what I was saying was that D-Wade passed the torch onto guys like James Harden, just to name one. I think that was just my opinion. I respect D-Wade, and I'm sure everybody's saying that he's going to use that as motivation, but he's always been a motivated player, and it's not going to change what I bring to the table. And I'm gonna stand by everything I say. No matter if I'm winning or losing, I'm going to say the same thing.
CM: What did you think of the Instagram photo he posted with the writing on it?
KD: The handwriting was immaculate. D-Wade, he's a high-level player. I didn't really think too much about it. It is what it is. Some people get motivated different ways, and that's how he chose to do it, and I respect him. There's no disrespect to him or the organization, it's just how I felt at the time when they were asking the question. Like I said, I'm going to stand behind it. I'm not going to let anybody change my stance on anything. Like I said, I respect what they've done as a team, what he's done as a player. But I was just talking about today as of right now, who I would take.
Durant also took his turn as a reporter, given his insight into the play and movement of Derrick Rose. The glimpses of Rose playing basketball since tearing his ACL on April 28, 2012, have been few and far between, but Durant got a firsthand look while training with Rose ---- along with Kevin Love, John Wall, Brandon Jennings, Chandler Parsons and others -- this summer:
CM: How did Derrick Rose look?
KD: He looked really good in my opinion. He looked like the MVP Derrick Rose to me. He's a great player. You can tell how hard he works. He wants to be back on that floor, he did everything he's supposed to do to get back.
The interview inevitably turned to the season ahead for the Thunder. While Durant acknowledged that a handful of already good Western Conference teams have only gotten better over the last few months, he chooses to focus primarily on himself and his teammates in his preseason work. Oklahoma City is in position to again contend for the title, but will likely lean on a relatively unproven player -- second-year guard Jeremy Lamb -- to help offset some of the scoring lost in the free-agent departure of Kevin Martin. Given that Lamb has played just 147 NBA minutes (many of which came in garbage time), Mannix turned to Durant for his take on Lamb's developing game:
CM: Unless you're an avid fan of the D-League, or are inside Thunder practices, people have no idea what Jeremy Lamb can do. Give me a scouting report on Jeremy Lamb.
KD: Smooth operator. He can shoot it really, really well. Athletic, can handle the ball, can play pick-and-roll, he can do just about everything, man. He can come off screens and shoot. He's really good for our program. I'm excited for him, and he's been working his tail off this summer. I know he's going to come out and be ready to play.