When Kevin Durant returned to Oklahoma City on Feb. 11 to compete for the first time in a Warriors’ uniform, he — and everyone affiliated with the Golden State organization — anticipated ugliness and ire.
What they didn’t expect, however, was anger boiled tender in a racist stew, served spicy with the zest of violence.
Several months have passed.
Durant released a short documentary over the summer to declare his humanness, and he experienced a late-summer Twitter scandal that proved he is, in fact, human. But, through it all, he appears to have learned invaluable lessons about himself and other people; he seems to have gained immeasurable wisdom about acceptance and surrender.
In advance of tonight’s game, Durant said:
“At this point, I’m done trying to convince people that I love being [in Oklahoma City], that I love playing basketball here, and that I love growing as a basketball player and as a person. But they’re just not listening right now, so it’s time for me to go ahead and stop talking about that stuff.”
Durant didn’t clarify, but the they in the final sentence could apply to any or all of the following factions: grudge-holding Thunder fans, former teammates, media outlets, specific talking heads.
Durant is a good man: kind, generous, devoted, self-directed, and committed to development in all areas of his life. More than anything, he wants people to know and accept this about him, which is why the events on Feb. 11 were so hurtful — and why he took to Twitter under a fake account to defend himself.
Why should a millionaire care what a few Twitter trolls think of him? many have asked.
Well, many people from impoverished backgrounds, who have the great fortune of good parenting, are taught that all they have in life is their name, their character, and their reputation. In a society in which people who look like Durant are assumed bad because of the color of their skin, they must be extra good — at everything — for a chance at success.
Thus, the pain from having his character assassinated — after spending a lifetime cultivating an unimpeachable one — must have been almost too incredible to bear.
But, now, it seems Durant is willing and able to let it all go — to accept that people need to demonize him because of their own personal failings and shortcomings. It seems he has reached a point of surrender to the fact that he cannot reason with the unreasonable.
It was unreasonable for Thunder fans to go berserk with cupcakes and images of snakes. But Anthony Slater reported in The Athletic that fans also held up signs with “fake Durant quotes, a photoshopped picture of him holding a pregnant Draymond, plus some other strange stuff.”
Strange stuff, indeed.
The next time Durant feels the impulse to convince people he’s a great guy, it would be wise for him to remember who he is dealing with: people who make strange signs of a pregnant Draymond Green being held like a baby.