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Kevin Durant is disappointed in the media

What else is new? KD gave his thoughts on local reporters, and explained just how far in advance his team-up with Kyrie Irving was planned.

Golden State Warriors v Brooklyn Nets
Frenemies Kevin Durant and Draymond Green match up
Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

In a far-ranging feature touching on friendship, the media, legacies, and his deep love of Twitter, former Golden State Warrior Kevin Durant shed more light on his free agent departure from the Warriors and how he believes that both his former teams should retire his jersey.

Durant, who left the Warriors for the Brooklyn Nets in the summer of 2019 after three years, two titles, and one torn Achilles tendon in the NBA Finals, seems to have some bitterness about his exit. Though it’s not toward the team or the organization as much as it was the local reporters.

He felt like the media, in particular, singled him out. The team was presented, he says, as “KD and the Warriors.”

“I was expecting—and maybe that’s my fault—I was expecting the beat writers, whoever was on the beat there, whoever covered the team, to integrate me into the Warriors’ way of doing things,” he says. “Because I never tried to step outside of that and make that situation bigger and make it all about me. I just felt like I wanted to be a part of the group. There were plenty of times where obviously when it comes to media, I was separated from the group.”

Part of this was that Durant signed a series of deals that featured a player option in the upcoming season, so it was natural to speculate about his future. The chatter grew very loud in his final season, 2018-19, when the topic of Durant’s probable departure was a constant theme, and eventually spilled out on the court when Draymond Green screamed at him during a game against the LA Clippers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLe6rfB6u28

But as the article reveals, all that speculation was completely correct! Durant explains that before he’d played a game for the Warriors, he and Kyrie Irving had made a pact to team up with their friend DeAndre Jordan, back at the 2016 Olympics when all three were members of Team USA. And they cemented their pact at the 2019 All-Star Game, where a video of the two talking in the tunnel together had amateur lip readers convinced they were talking about “two max slots.” When they both announced they were going to Brooklyn, the only surprise was that it wasn’t the New York Knicks instead, at least among people who don’t realize how truly atrocious the Knicks organization is. Kevin Durant doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who would tolerate the owner playing guitar on the team plane.

Speaking of the team plane, one sign of Durant’s growing disconnection with the team was that he gave up his usual practice of playing cards with Draymond and Steph Curry on flights, though there’s two other possible reasons. One, the fourth member of their card game, JaVale McGee, had departed for the Los Angeles Lakers in the off-season. He’s an underrated glue guy off the court too! And second, Durant claimed he usually was off making beats by himself, and that what reporters read as discontent was totally normal behavior.

“For people to look at me and say I was malcontent or isolated or didn’t look happy, I’m like, ‘Yo, do you all see Klay every day? Did you all see how he walked in there?’ But that was just him and nobody ever bat an eye at him,” Durant says. “I loved it and I picked up on some of those things and how they approach the team-building and team bond. I’m like, ‘Oh, this is more my style.’ I was just adopting what the team was already doing.

As we know now, the only reason Klay walked around looking unhappy is that he didn’t own a boat yet, and hadn’t found true contentment by communing with the sea.

Durant’s issue seems to be that the constant speculation about his impending departure was unfair, and to an extent, it’s easy to see how facing questions about his free agent decision in July would annoy him eight months in advance, regardless of whether he’d made his decision to leave already. The tension with Draymond stemmed from Durant’s refusal to declare that he was coming back in 2019-20, and the constant questions about it, but that wasn’t fair to expect or demand that.

There was one local reporter in particular who clashed with KD quite a bit, but specifically angered him with a column that claimed Durant to the Knicks was a done deal, back in February of 2019. Durant called him out at the time.

“I have nothing to do with the Knicks,” Durant said. “I don’t know who traded Porzingis. They got nothing to do with me. I’m trying to play basketball. Y’all come in here every day, ask me about free agency, ask my teammates, my coaches. You rile up the fans about it. Let us play basketball. That’s all I’m saying. And now when I don’t wanna talk to y’all, it’s a problem with me.

“Come on, man. Grow up. Grow up. Yeah, you — grow up. Come on, bro. I come here and go to work every day. I don’t cause no problems. I play the right way, or I try to play the right way. I try to be the best player I can be every possession. What’s the problem? What am I doing to y’all?”

This was Ethan Strauss, former Athletic writer and current podcaster and Substack hot take artist. And Durant made it very clear who he meant.

“You got a dude, Ethan Strauss, who comes in here and just gives his whole opinion on stuff and makes it seem like it’s coming from me. And he just walks around here, don’t talk to nobody, just walk in here and survey and write something like that, and now you gotta pile on me because I don’t wanna talk to y’all about that.”

Strauss went on to devote a large chunk of his book about the Warriors dynasty to his own feud with Durant. When he asked Durant to comment, he got a predictable response via text message: “F*ck u, f*ck your sources and your book.”

Durant still seems unhappy with Strauss. In the course of explaining that he thinks teams should restore locker room access to reporters, he offered a caveat.

“It’s the ones that don’t say anything that come into the locker room, but they got the most to say in their column about what goes on in the locker room. You’re not being in a relationship with us, but you just eavesdropping in on a situation. That’s where the trust factor starts to get eliminated, where it’s like, ‘Well, who are we letting in here?’”

Overall, Durant expressed happiness in his new home with the Nets, a team where he has committed himself long-term, with a contract extension that runs through his age-37 season. But he still thinks his old teams need to honor him. “OKC has to retire my jersey.It wouldn’t even be good for the game of basketball if they didn’t. The same with Golden State.”

The Warriors haven’t made any moves to officially retire Durant’s number - they’ve only retired six jerseys in their entire history (Paul Arizin, Al Attles, Rick Barry, Wilt Chamberlain, Tom Meschery, and Chris Mullin), but after Durant went to Brooklyn, owner Joe Lacob announced, “As long as I am co-chairman of this team, no player will ever wear #35 for the Warriors again.”

It’s not like they wouldn’t necessarily do a retirement ceremony for KD, but this isn’t a team that’s casual about raising jerseys to the rafters, though there’s four members of the current team who will likely get their numbers retired first. And it would be weird to do it while Durant is still playing. This isn’t like the Miami Heat, who have also retired six numbers, but one is for Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino, and another is Michael Jordan’s No. 23 - who never played for the Heat at all. Oklahoma City will probably retire the number too, eventually, but it will be in conjunction with a cupcake giveaway, or the jersey they retire will be slightly singed.