The now familiar Nike slogans drive home the point: Kevin Durant is “not nice” and “the baddest.” It’s a clever campaign, but critiques that KD was ever too respectful or humble to reach his sky-high ceiling were always ridiculous. You don’t become a crunch-time assassin and arguably the best player on earth without unrelenting confidence and a selfish drive to be the best.
Now that he’s established himself as an all-time great at just 26 years-old, though, perhaps we’ll get a more unfiltered lens into the real Durant. Given his all-encompassing, must-read interview with USA Today’s Sam Amick, it certainly seems that way, at least.
Asked how he responded to those who disagreed with his controversial decision to withdraw from Team USA this summer so late in the training process, Durant hardly held back.
“Seriously, to be honest, I was like ‘(expletive) ’em.’ You can write that, too. Seriously, though. I’m just going to be me, man, and that’s how I felt.
“I was happy I took the hits, like, ‘All right, that’s going to teach me to be strong and not worry about what everybody has got to say.’ I heard it all — ‘you don’t care about your country’ to ‘you’re soft’ to all of that. Well I don’t care. These people don’t know me. They don’t know the work I’ve put in. They don’t know that I’ve done (the FIBA tournament) before, so it made me stronger.”
We supported Durant’s choice from the beginning. No player aside from LeBron James has played more basketball under more responsibility and scrutiny since 2012 than Durant – he’s entitled to rest, and should take it whenever he deems necessary. And it’s not like KD is the type of player to take such a decision lightly, too. If he’s not playing for Team USA, there’s a damn good reason.
Kudos to Durant for speaking his mind. The criticism he faced immediately following his withdrawal was always irrational, and maybe those who voiced it will understand their mistake as a result of KD’s stern words.
What do you think?
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