Look, I know a guy who uses burner Twitter accounts to defend himself shouldn’t really be telling anyone to “grow up”. The guy who locked himself in his house and cried to his agent for three days after the internet roasted his decision to join Golden State, may have some inner battles to fight before he comments on those around him. However, if you stop and think about what Durant is saying here, he’s completely right. For all his faults, Kevin Durant plays the game the right way, and has never had any off the court issues. After the Knicks traded Kristaps Porzingis, and clearing money dollars in the process, Kevin Durant has been linked to the Big Apple. So much so that Golden State’s early struggles were pinned on team chemistry wavering due to Durant’s upcoming departure. Last night, Durant broke his nine day media silence in a post game interview after blowing out the Spurs by 39. Instantly, the topic of conversation shifted to Durant’s media shunning and free agency, which Durant was none too pleased with, and he’s totally justified.
Kevin Durant has a job to do, and he does it well. He’s the most versatile scorer this game has seen, and a top ten player of all time. These things are indisputable, unless you’re a biased fan or reporter. Yet, Durant faces more media scrutiny than anyone in basketball excluding LeBron. So, if Durant keeps winning games, and the Warriors win a lot of games, why is the media all over him? Because, like Durant said, they need to grow up.
Durant isn’t the only NBA player who shares these sentiments. Celtics guard Kyrie Irving had similar thoughts a little over a week ago, coincidentally when being pressed about the same Knicks situation that Durant was.
Literally, after this media session was concluded every reporter in attendance did exactly what Kyrie said they shouldn’t. Reports of “Kyrie wants out” and “He’s changed his mind about Boston” were flying everywhere, when all he actually said was “Boston is still leading the race” and “I’m going wherever I want”. That doesn’t get clicks though, so who cares about that part?
Free agency rumors are one thing. Guys like Woj and Shams tip toe the line between credible report and flat out gossip perfectly. They do their due diligence and try to report facts that they believe are just that, facts. Not he said, she said garbage that is ultimately wrong just to get a click or two. Guys like Ethan Strauss, who Durant mentioned by name, that report on things he hears about Durant are the issue. Two days ago Strauss wrote a blog for The Athletic entitled “Silent Star: On the Presumed Warrior Exit of Kevin Durant’. Look at the title, you figure at some point there is going to be a quote or two from Durant himself either dismissing or confirming these reports, but to be honest if it’s after the first two paragraphs I couldn’t tell you, as most of it is behind a pay wall. You can read one paragraph that describes Durant “splitting the double team” of Warriors’ PR workers to evade the media, as if he’s horrified of them. Fast forward to last night and the same media members that Strauss claims Durant ran away from were choking on their words after Durant called them out. A whole room of Twitter fingers silenced when confronted, very few things are more beautiful to see.
These reports may end up being true, KD may end up in New York. I’ll go a step farther and say the sole purpose of the Kristaps trade was to facilitate the process of KD signing in New York. However, at no point did Durant or the Knicks say this publicly, so speculation is fine, portraying a guy literally running from the media to avoid the topic is not. Anthony Davis being fined is the perfect example of this. On January 29th, Anthony Davis was fined 50 large ones for publicly demanding a trade, which violates the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and its players. Now that would be completely fine had Davis in fact publicly demanded a trade, but he didn’t. He did it privately and the media reported it to the public. Davis is an elite talent so I’m sure he isn’t sweating the money, but the fact that he’s being fined over reporters really shows how out of hand the media situation has gotten. Two days later, Davis held a press conference at the Pelicans practice facility, essentially confirming the report he was already suspended for.
Where Kyrie was polite, and Davis was cooperative, Durant was blunt and honest. When faced with the speculation that’s followed him since he joined Golden State, this time he did not take the high road. I’ll admit, Durant brought some of this media pressure on himself. For years he was the media’s favorite player, appose to LeBron’s villainy, and his move to the Warriors changed all that. However, he’s clearly taken a stand against this stuff, and any fan of basketball should respect it.
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