Since Kevin Durant came to Golden State, he’s no longer a mostly mysterious figure dropping the occasional nugget of either knowledge or attitude like he was in Oklahoma City. In Warriors blue, he’s been outspoken on damn near everything he’s been asked, which as he told ESPN in a Q&A, is a function of being more comfortable with himself.
Nah, I’m going to be real as hell and show you who I am, because I want the kids to see who I really am and the basketball players to see who I really am, and that’s all that matters to me. I’m just content with myself, happy with myself. I believe I’m enough, you know what I’m saying? I don’t have to be anybody I’m not. I’m not this tough guy, I’m not this super hard person. I’m going to show you my faults, I’m going to show you my insecurities, I’m going to be real.
People grow, and if Durant’s increased openness is a function of him maturing, we’re very happy for him. But it’s also true that OKC just didn’t allow media much access to their stars, which is in stark contrast to the way the Warriors handle things. When asked about the difference, Durant said he understood the reasoning behind it, by way of a little story.
CH: Obviously, I wasn’t covering you routinely like I am now, but when I did come to OKC during your time there, you looked untouchable. Is that accurate to say?
KD: What you mean “untouchable?”
CH: We couldn’t get to you.
KD: You couldn’t do this? What you’re doing now?
CH: Hell nah. We definitely couldn’t do this. We couldn’t get within arm’s length of you without somebody body-checking us.
KD: That’s the protocol they had in OKC. You had to respect it. They wanted to control the story. They wanted to control the narrative around our team, and I understood that, because there’s a lot of bulls— that can seep into a young team and affect a young team. When you’ve got an older group of guys like this, you’ve been around the block, this stuff really doesn’t creep in. It may creep in with a young team.
Like for example, I’m not saying this ever happened, but if you sat down and talk to Jeremy Lamb about, “All right, you’re not playing. How you feel about not playing?” And he says, “I want more minutes,” and the rest of the team hears that as a young group of guys, what are they going to say? It’s going to be, now it’s us versus Jeremy.
So you’ve got to look at it from that perspective. When you’ve got a young team, we had a bunch of 20-year-olds, 19-year-olds, you got to walk them through this life, because it’s different. You guys have a job to do, and it’s not to cater to the players. It’s to figure out a story. You guys aren’t working together. He’s trying to figure out his way in the league, and he shouldn’t have to be distracted about a media story.
It’s a very reasonable position to take, but it needs to be said that OKC’s poicy remained largely unchanged well past when Durant and his teammates were 20 years old. As the team matured into a playoff contender, they were still shielded by an organization that curated a very closed-off, “Us vs. them” organizational personality. Some must wonder if it contributed in a small way to Durant wanting to leave for a place that allowed him to be himself more publicly.