Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Durant’

 

Kevin Durant is recognized as an NBA superstar for the Golden State Warriors by millions worldwide. When he looks at himself in the mirror, though, the former league Most Valuable Player sees a “black man,” which is an identity Durant now views in an entirely different light.

Talking to The Mercury News’ Logan Murdock, Durant discussed race, and how he would be perceived were he not a basketball player – a job title which has protected him from the trials and tribulations other minorities around him have gone through:

Finally waking up, to be honest. Just kind of seeing how rough it is for an average black man, you know what I’m saying? And on top of that, a black man makes one mistake … I see how far we get pushed down. For me, I kind of grew up in this basketball world, whereas my talent kind of overrides what I look like.

I didn’t have it as rough when it comes to that, as far as social or systematic oppression or any social issues. They didn’t really apply to me because I could put a ball in a basket. Just me saying that kind of woke me up a little bit, like “Damn, that’s all I’m good for?” Like, if I wasn’t a basketball player, what kind of man would they look at me as, you know what I’m saying?

In terms of what value can I bring to you outside of playing basketball. I bring a lot of value to people as far as how I treat them, how I encourage them, how I just try to be a good person to them. I feel there’s like a lot of black men that have those traits, but they often just get stereotyped or judged off of one incident or not given a second chance.

So if I find something that’s empowering to people that look like me, I just try to send a subtle message that I got your back and I hear you and I try to inspire you as much as I can from just being in this world as a black man coming up, even though I was looked at and viewed a little differently for it. But I’m still a black man. I understand where you’re coming from.

Durant brought up how close friends of his would get into trouble on the streets, and deal with drugs and other illegal activity, adding that his mother grew up in that world, as did his brother. The fact that he played basketball, though, helped keep him away from that environment, since he was always honing his craft.

Had basketball not been there, Durant wonders what his life would have looked like.

“I didn’t have it as rough when it comes to that, as far as social or systematic oppression or any social issues. They didn’t really apply to me because I could put a ball in a basket,” Durant added. “Just me saying that kind of woke me up a little bit, like, ‘Damn, that’s all I’m good for?’ Like, if I wasn’t a basketball player, what kind of man would they look at me as, you know what I’m saying?”

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Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant took some time to reflect on leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder, and then he let everything out.

Durant admitted he was upset by how OKC fans turned on him after he chose to sign with Golden State, but he’ll ultimately look back fondly on his eight seasons with the Thunder.

“That stuff right there is going to last forever,” Durant told Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report. “That stuff is way, way more important than a championship. Me and my family didn’t just erase those eight years in OKC. D.C. and OKC is where we grew up – my mom, my brother, me.

“I am OKC. I’m still OKC. That blue is going to be in my blood forever. That place raised me. I have people there who would take a bullet for me and vice versa. But there’s a point in a young man’s life, just like when he goes off to college, or when he moves to another city to get a job, he’s got to make a decision for himself. You’ve got to make a decision that’s best for yourself and you would expect the people that love you the most to say they understand.”

The response from Thunder fans was similar to that of Cleveland when LeBron James left for Miami in 2010, after Durant’s announcement on The Players’ Tribune that he would take his talents to the 73-win team that eliminated the Thunder in the Western Conference Finals. Durant instantly went from being their favorite son to being hated, as fans responded by burning his jersey, flooding his social media mentions, and one person went so far as to fire an automatic rifle at his old uniform.

His former Thunder teammates followed suit. Russell Westbrook, who Durant once called his brother, played up the rivalry at every possible opportunity, which further endeared him to Thunder fans and made his bitterness toward Durant into a national storyline.

For better or for worse, these are people in his life that he’ll cherish, regardless of whether he gets the same love in return, or not.

“Those people really mean a lot to me to this day. No matter if they talk to me or they’re mad at me. Whether it’s Sam Presti or Troy Weaver or Russell Westbrook or Nick Collison. Whether it’s Wilson Taylor or Clay Bennett and his family, I love them from the bottom of my heart. We’re not talking, but eventually we will,” Durant said.

 NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Boston Celtics
 

When a beloved, high-profile NBA talent elects to take his talents elsewhere in free agency, they’re mostly met with a barrage of negativity from their former fan base and media for a business decision they had every right to make.

But when management moves a player who had every intention to stay around for the long haul, there’s not nearly as much outrage, if any.

All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas feels as such about his move to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Thomas said he hopes his trade from the Boston Celtics will open up eyes about the double standard, while using Kevin Durant signing with the Golden State Warriors as a prime example to support the other side.

“I actually think this was a good lesson,” Thomas wrote in The Players’ Tribune. “Not only for me, but for the league as a whole. And for the fans and the media, too, you know, just in terms of how they talk about guys changing teams.

“I was thinking about that last year with KD and his free agency – about how people gave him such a hard time for doing what he felt was best for him and his future. How they turned him into a villain, just for doing what was his right to do as a free agent in this league. Suddenly, it was, ‘Oh, he’s selfish,’ or, ‘Oh, he’s a coward.’ Suddenly, just for doing business on his end, and doing right by himself, he was portrayed as this bad guy.”

Thomas added that the pain of being shipped off by the Celtics still lingers to this day, and that loyalty is really “just a word” if players who displayed his level of commitment can be sent packing.

“I want them to see how my getting traded – just like that, without any warning – by the franchise that I scratched and clawed for, and bled for, and put my everything on the line for? That’s why people need to fix their perspective,” Thomas wrote.

“It’s like, man – with a few exceptions, unless we’re free agents, 99 times out of 100, it’s the owners with the power. So when players are getting moved left and right, and having their lives changed without any say-so, and it’s no big deal … but then the handful of times it flips, and the player has control … then it’s some scandal? Just being honest, but – to me, that says a lot about where we are as a league, and even as a society. And it says a lot about how far we still have to go.”

Nonetheless, Thomas says there’s “no hard feelings” with Boston, although he’s still hopeful the basketball world will look at what happened to him and perhaps think twice the next time it wants to pile on a departing free agent.

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Kevin Durant is sticking by his most memorable tweet.

Durant reiterated on “The Bill Simmons Podcast” that he would still drink actress Scarlett Johansson’s bathwater if given the chance. He first shared that thought back in 2011 in a tweet that was shared over 52,000 times.

“I hope she was aware of it,” Durant said of his proclamation. “It is strange now because it made me look crazy, but now it made me look real cool because I would.”

“I actually love Scarlett Johansson, and I would do that. And she’s single now from what I heard.”

Johansson is not single as she’s reportedly dating comedian Colin Jost, but that’s mostly besides the point, which is that Durant is super creepy.

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Kevin Durant thinks his apparent beef with Russell Westbrook is overblown.

The Golden State Warriors forward revealed that while he and Westbrook no longer talk, he doesn’t believe their friendship has taken a huge hit over the last year.

“I don’t think we ever stopped being friends,” Durant said on “The Bill Simmons Podcast.” “We just stopped talking – but I don’t think we stopped being friends.”

Durant’s relationship with Westbrook reportedly took a turn for the worse after he signed with the Golden State Warriors last summer. Westbrook reportedly responded to the move by deleting the 6-foot-9 forward’s goodbye text, leading Durant to admit their relationship would never “be the same again.”

Despite what the rest of the NBA world may think, Durant doesn’t believe there’s any animosity between him and his former teammate at the moment.

“(We’re) not talking, nah, but I mean, I don’t think any … there’s no problems,” Durant said. “But I don’t think we ever stopped being friends.”

Durant did his best to squash the supposed beef earlier this offseason, congratulating Westbrook after the 6-foot-3 guard took home MVP honors.

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Kevin Durant knows all about making unpopular decisions, about prioritizing personal well-being when choosing one’s career path, and about facing the public blowback that often accompanies those choices.

Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that Durant empathizes with Kyrie Irving, and respects Irving’s decision to force his way out of Cleveland, out of LeBron James‘ shadow, and into a new situation with the Boston Celtics – despite the fact that he’d gone to three straight Finals with James and the Cavaliers.

“He did what he was supposed to do in Cleveland. It’s on to the next chapter,” Durant said of Irving on Thursday’s edition of The Bill Simmons Podcast, using a conspicuously familiar idiom.

“I can really appreciate what he did. He stood up for himself. He showed a lot of courage, because it’s hard to take that type of criticism when you just want to play ball.”

Durant, who has said he made “the 100 percent correct decision” signing with the Golden State Warriors last summer, understands why Irving was keen to get out of Cleveland, especially given all the rumors about James’ planned departure after this season.

“When you’re around LeBron James, there’s so much that comes with that,” Durant said. “There’s so much outside distraction and conversations and just noise that comes from being around LeBron James. And Kyrie’s at the point like, ‘Alright, we lost the championship, this whole season’s gonna be about if LeBron’s gonna leave or not. I’m ready for a new challenge.’

“It just felt like he wanted a situation where he could just be free from all of that, and just play. And it’s a perfect system for him in Boston.”

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Led by Russell Westbrook‘s triple-double tear for the ages, the Oklahoma City Thunder fared quite well in their first season without former NBA MVP Kevin Durant, winning 47 games and advancing to the playoffs, though they did get bounced in the opening round.

Nonetheless, the Thunder are well equipped to return to prominence in the Western Conference in 2017-18 after acquiring Paul George. Along with Westbrook and center Steven Adams, Oklahoma City has an elite Big 3 at its disposal that Durant isn’t exactly looking forward to battling with the Golden State Warriors.

“But they got Russ and PG and Steven Adams to be their Big 3. I think if they feed off each other, it could be great,” Durant told The Athletic’s Anthony Slater. “I’m a fan of the game. So I can see if something is going to work or not and I think that’s going to be a really, really great pairing. It’s going to suck for us and the rest of the league. But as a fan of the game, it’s going to be tight to see how they work that thing out.”

The West in general has undergone a major transformation in a short period of time. The Houston Rockets landed Chris Paul to play alongside James Harden, the Minnesota Timberwolves made a huge splash to acquire Jimmy Butler, and Paul Millsap signed with the rising Denver Nuggets. That doesn’t even take into account the likes of the San Antonio Spurs, Portland Trail Blazers, and Los Angeles Clippers, who won’t be easy outs themselves.

Golden State won 67 games in 2016-17, and lost just once en route to its second title in three years. Durant realizes it’s going to be much more difficult to replicate that level of success in the revamped West, yet he’s ready to face that challenge head on.

“It is a new landscape. And I like it. I don’t know how it’s going to work together, but I can’t wait to see it all. It’s going to be fun every night,” he added. “You’re going to see what you’re supposed to be seeing, not a bunch of dudes you know aren’t good on the court. There’s going to be a bunch of talent on the floor, top to bottom.”