Kevin Durant is tired of reading things like this reciting the things he’s said in interviews. He knows pretty much anything he says will get aggregated because he’s one of the best players in the NBA and he isn’t afraid to speak honestly about things.
Durant is likely returning from injury on Thursday, but while he was on the mend he appeared on the Bill Simmons Podcast on Wednesday, part one of a massive episode he recorded with Simmons earlier in the week.
The Golden State Warriors superstar is always a solid interview, especially in podcast form, and he had plenty to say about a variety of issues. His main gripe, though, came about “blog boys” and people obsessed with statistics who he claims aren’t watching the game.
“I don’t like analytics at all,” Durant said. “I like field goal percentage defense, I like field goal percentage, I like turnovers, I like rebounds — the real stats. The true shooting percentage and effective field goal percentage and all that stuff. Come on man. It’s flawed. PER. It’s flawed.”
Durant lamented that there’s “a bunch of coaching vultures” in basketball right now: people who “look at numbers first and then watch.” He later issued a PSA for the aforementioned “blog boys.”
“Can I make a PSA real quick? All your blog boys and your fanboys that’s gonna use everything I say and create an article — watch a basketball game. How about you write that. I just want to say that, because all these guys are gonna write articles and get real mad about what I said tonight … they’re gonna put their emotions into it. It’s not about you. Watch a basketball game. Enjoy the game. Stop worrying about me so much. I just wanted to say that.”
Durant is making an interesting point: statistical analysis needs to be used along with objective viewing of basketball to really mean anything. That’s not all that shocking of a take, but he clearly feels that some people do more box score watching than actually watching the game. Any rational user of statistics and most everyone that writes about the NBA as a profession, though, is taking the approach that Durant mentions.
It’s all part of the equation necessary to better understand what’s actually happening on the court during a game and attempt to push away some of the biases that come with viewing a game from an non-objective viewpoint. The balance is difficult, but analytics and advanced stats — which, Durant getting mad about true shooting and effective field goal percentage is silly because they’re a very simple formula that actually better represents what players are doing in the modern NBA — are useful to confirm what you see on the floor or to highlight something you may be missing (or seeing incorrectly). Not using all data available to you is irresponsible, but so is using stats exclusively and not watching games. While there are a minority that do the latter, the vast majority of NBA writers watch a significant amount of games.
Durant later tried to stress that he’s just a normal person like everyone else, and that people sometimes lose sight of the fact that he’s just an ordinary person who happens to be extraordinary at basketball. He illustrated this by telling a pretty strange story about how he ate Taco Bell after the Warriors won it all last summer and it still gave him the bubble guts even though “people tell us we’re superstars.”
“After we won the championship, I had Taco Bell and it ran through me just like it would a normal person. I’m like, ‘Oh sh*t. I thought I had a golden stomach. I thought I was immune to everything, but no.
“That’s the perception of it all — we’re just immortal. We’re normal f*cking people who are really good at what we do. But at the end of the day, we go to sleep just like everybody else. We really put on our pants just like everybody else.”
Durant said he’s “not king anything because we won a championship.” But he is right about one thing, us blog boys will write pretty much anytime he says something, especially if he keeps making anecdotes like that.
Someday, though, I hope to become a blog man.
[h/t Pro Basketball Talk]