The main takeaways from the Wall Street Journal interview with Kevin Durant – his thoughts on his place with the Golden State Warriors, and his opinion about Oklahoma City, aren’t the most interesting things about it.
Minutes after WSJ published the piece (which is a very interesting and recommended read), the quotes regarding how he felt a bit out of place with the Warriors, and how he’ll never forgive some of the people and actions against him in Oklahoma City, showed up everywhere, from ESPN to Facebook and in between.
Kevin Durant cares about narratives
But the main message for me from everything Durant was quotes on was narrative. Durant doesn’t like certain narratives the media puts him in. And this piece/interview by J.R. Moehringer is another narrative, a very flattering one for Durant.
Durant’s play isn’t affected by what the media says, shows and writes about him. His play isn’t affected by what’s written about him on Twitter and Instagram. But he does care. And he keeps walking the weird line between telling the world he doesn’t give a f*** and giving too much of it.
Achievement-wise, Durant doesn’t speak about achieving something new. He has an MVP, a Finals MVP, his championships. What he does seem to seek is somewhere he belongs, truly, without any exceptions. Joining the Brooklyn Nets, when you remove the clutter, seems to be about that.
And he has to wait a whole year to find out what it’s going to be like. Meanwhile, Kyrie Irving will be keeping the seat warm for him. His so called best friend in the league, who has his fair share of baggage, at least from the outsider perspective.
Durant the NBA Player, Phase 3.0
One thing that’s impossible not to think of when digesting everything Durant has to say about fans, media and the league as a whole, is the media market he’s heading in to. New York is not Oklahoma City. It’s not the Bay Area. The narratives he doesn’t like being involved and placed in? They’ll be coming fast, at an alarming pace & force if things don’t go his and the Nets’ way, when he finally gets on the floor.
And the Durant POV gives another indication of the dissonance between a certain tier of athletes (Durant being in the very highest) and fans. Let’s set aside the idiots who burn jerseys and the vile creatures who do worse. Durant embraced a community in Oklahoma, per his words. But he, everything he’s been saying since the 2016 summer, seem to be ignoring the perspective of fans who supported him for nearly a decade.
In the end, Kevin Durant, NBA players, athletes, need to decide what’s good for themselves. They don’t deserve to be threatened for their professional decisions. But nor should they be oblivious to what they mean to people. Durant’s process of choosing teams changed in the three years that have gone by. He’s changed as well, but the backlash from going to the Bay Area to win rings with an already loaded team took its toll on him.
Durant, despite how easy it is to portray him as such, is not a villain. But I don’t think he understands why he’ll never be perceived the way he wants to be. He’ll keep trying, and keep searching for a place that brings him to that point. I’m not too certain he’ll ever find it.