I’m not here to rip Kevin Durant. I’m here to thank him. How often does an athlete invite you into his therapy appointment?
We can’t fault Durant for his feelings. It’s lonely at the top, even when you climbed on Steph Curry’s shoulders to get there.
Durant just admitted that criticism bothered him, but the critics are right. Well, he didn’t actually say that. But it was implied.
Durant—that’s @KDTrey5 to you and me—essentially admitted it. He responded to Twitter critics who said he took a shortcut to a championship when he left Oklahoma City for Golden State with:
he didn’t like the organization or playing for Billy Donovan. His roster wasn’t that good, it was just him and russ
Imagine taking russ off that team, see how bad they were. Kd can’t win a championship with those cats.
Presumably, Durant has a ghost Twitter account that he uses to defend himself, and he forgot to log out of @KDTrey5 and into that one before defending himself.
His third-person self defense is actually not true—if Durant had played like his usual All-NBA self in Game 6 of the 2016 Western Conference Finals, the Thunder would have eliminated the Warriors. But that doesn’t even matter. What matters is that Durant felt the need to create a fake Twitter account and say it.
Durant is in an awkward position. Normally, athletes can quiet their critics by winning. But the more the Warriors win, the more his critics appear to be correct.
So what can he do? Create a fake twitter account, apparently.
These tweets say so much about him. In fact, a lot of what Durant has done since winning his first NBA championship says so much about him. The soles of his new shoes include words like “cheat code” and “follower” and “soft’ and “can’t beat ’em join ’em” in black, with “2017 CHAMPS” and “FINALS MOST VALUABLE PLAYER” in yellow, as though he shut everybody up with his play.
It’s all nonsense. He proved nobody wrong. We all knew he was an incredible basketball player. The vast majority of us expected the Warriors to win another title when he showed up. And they did. So, you know: Kudos. But this doesn’t make him less of a follower.
Durant didn’t beat ’em, so he joined ’em. That’s not a criticism. It’s a historical fact.
And this clearly bothers Durant. I think he convinced himself he could silence everybody by winning a championship, and now he sees how silly that was.
I’ve written this before, but it needs to be said again: Nobody thinks Durant is a bad guy. He’s not a villain. He is a great player who used his free agency to take the easiest possible path to a championship. This was obvious last summer. It is obvious today.
He had a right to do that. I didn’t like it. Some people did. Well, that’s sports. We argue about this stuff, and that’s part of the fun. But while the move put Durant in line for multiple championships, it also put him in this awkward position, and there is no good way out of it.
It must be maddening for him. This explains the tweets, and his new Nikes, and maybe even why he recently told The Ringer, “Nobody wants to play in Under Armours.”
Curry, of course, is Under Armour’s most prominent endorser. You would think Durant would be more diplomatic about his teammate, but maybe, deep in his subconscious, Durant wants to assert himself as the Warriors’ No. 1 star in every way.
(Curry responded by telling the Charlotte Observer, “You can't tell me nobody wants to wear our shoes … I know for a fact they do,” which has to go down as the nerdiest response to trash talk in NBA history. I assume Curry was ready to go off about how his shoes are always tied and his bed is always made, but he held his tongue.)
Durant has always been one of the most driven players in the NBA. But he has a longstanding habit of saying things that sound good to whoever happens to be listening. He spoke excitedly about spending his career in Oklahoma City right before he left.
Leaving for Golden State and his friend Draymond Green sounded good at the time. It looked great on the floor. Durant is one of the three best players in the world, on one of the best teams in league history. This is the life he chose. He should enjoy it, no matter what his critics say. (Even though we’re right.)