Kevin Durant appeared on Bill Simmons’ HBO sports talk show “Any Given Wednesday” this week with iconic rapper Nas. Simmons wasted no time and immediately addressed the elephant in the room, Durant’s decision to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder and join the Golden State Warriors. More to the point, the criticism he’s faced because of it.
Durant was asked about how he felt during the whole process, where he faced numerous insinuations about his character based on his decision. Durant said he was frustrated, more than anything. At the time, he was still balancing life between two franchises and to speak out against those attacking him would have been unwise, so he didn’t really have a way to stand up for himself.
Simmons brought up the fact that people called him weak, but Durant disagreed. He said that he’s shown strength through every step of his path to get where he is now, an elite player who made the decision to play for an elite team.
“Nobody cares about what I want as a person, it was all about what I could do on a basketball court. Nobody cares if I like going fishing on Tuesdays or taking pictures in the street; as long as I can get that ball into the hoop. Why should I care what they think when they don’t really care about me as a whole?”
Nas compared a decision earlier in his career to grow and expand in ways people in his life at the time didn’t really understand with Durant’s decision to go to Golden State, noting that people don’t always understand your plan for your own future or the journey you want to take and that you can’t let those people hold you back.
This led to a discussion of rivalries, with Simmons comparing the rivalry between Nas and Jay-Z to the perception of a rivalry between Durant and Russell Westbrook. To which Durant replied that it doesn’t matter what he does, people will find a way to make it fit in their own narrative so he isn’t concerned.
He noted that it was difficult to tell Westbrook that he was leaving because of their long history, but it was his decision to make, he stood by it, and at the end of the day he’s the only one who has to live with it.
Durant was asked about the transition between being someone’s teammate to being their competitor. Durant said he is very focused on what he needs to do on the court, that he’s not thinking about other players so much as what he needs to do to beat them. He added that he doesn’t take any of that off the court, noting that he’s not sitting at home thinking about any other players enough to hold grudges against them.
He added on to this by stating that the way he plays the game will not change, specifying that “The work doesn’t stop, I really just have a different jersey on.”
Simmons brought up how great the Warriors’ fans are, and Durant agreed, noting that the team had been bad for so long and are only just getting back to an elite level. He pointed out that the Spurs have been winning for twenty years and asked if anyone would think he was taking the easy route if he’d gone there.
Durant was also asked if LeBron James keeps him motivated and he said that he does, noting that it’s important to have “someone sharper than you to keep you on your toes.”
Perhaps the funniest part was during the Speed Round of questions for each guest, where Simmons deliberately stated that he could not ask Durant about the topic, but asked Nas what he thought of the Chef Curry’s. Durant quickly answered anyway, sticking to his brand and stating definitively “They were bad!”
HBO subscribers can watch the full episode anytime On Demand or on the HBO website or mobile app.