The Oklahoma City Thunder are 29-12 after stomping the Minnesota Timberwolves on ESPN Friday night, 113-93. Russell Westbrook notched a triple-double, and KD scored a team-high 21 to go with seven boards and six dimes. Despite how well the Thunder have played with a new coach and after KD missed seven games earlier in the season following a pulled hamstring and sprained toe (they went just 3-4 in that stretch) they’re still on pace for nearly 60 wins, which is normally good enough for a top-2 seed in the West.
But the Spurs and Warriors are playing at another level, and most media coverage has focused on their spectacular opening 40 games to the season. Michael Wilbon said on Friday’s Pardon the Interruption that the Spurs, Cavs and Warriors are the “only three teams in the NBA, right now from where we sit, who can win the championship, who can even play for the championship.”
Durant was asked about the comments before his team took on the Timberwolves, and he continued his Don Quixote crusade to rectify the media’s ills like he’s soliloquizing on Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom.
“Man, the [media and experts are] always trying to nitpick us,” Kevin Durant told ESPN.com. “I mean, they don’t like us. They don’t like how Russell [Westbrook] talks to the media, they don’t like how I talk to the media. So obviously, yeah, they’re not going to give us the benefit of the doubt.
“Especially since we’ve been together so long. Some of these teams are new, except for the Spurs, who have won. But we haven’t won and we’ve still got the same core, so they don’t expect us to win. It is what it is, who cares about them. They don’t mean nothing, the critics. Their opinions, everybody has one, but we don’t really care about them. Every day we’re just going to keep grinding this thing out. We feel like we can compete with anybody.”
None of what Durant said makes a lot of sense. Most NBA watchers rightfully place the Thunder one tier behind the three teams Wilbon mentioned, and they should since the Cavs have an easier path to the Finals and the Spurs and Warriors are both at least six games ahead of the Thunder in the standings.
But before the season started, a lot of NBA analysts and media members picked the Thunder for the Conference Finals or the NBA Finals. Most “media” members agree that KD and Russ are two of the best 10 players in the world, and — despite whatever their record ends up being this season — the Thunder can’t be discounted when May rolls around.
Durant is right when he says that the Thunder haven’t gotten the ink of the last two NBA champions and LeBron’s Cerberus in Cleveland, but he comes off sounding so freakin’ petty here. If he doesn’t care so much, why even talk about this? And like the blowhards who talk of a “liberal media bias,” the “media” is simply too large and variegated to charge with some singular beef that encompasses each and every outlet. Plenty of reporters have been covering the Thunder, and any talk of a bias neglects to provide much evidence to back it up.
But this is the stance Durant takes these days. He doesn’t think the media is qualified to vote on awards, and he broke rank with his fellow superstars earlier this season — including even Kobe himself — when he attacked the media for treating Bean “like shit.”
After complications from Jones surgery on his foot kept him out for the majority of the 2014-15 season, Durant even attacked the media for treating him like “a 19-year vet” because they had the temerity to ask how he was feeling.
This might still be part of Durant’s attempt to change his public perception. Whereas earlier in his career most considered him a humble, self-effacing superstar, the antithesis to the global #brand shenanigans of his peers, now it seems like modesty is considered a weakness. Durant always seems to be stomping his feet about something. He’s now someone who overtly tells his teammates to ignore a reporter’s questions, or revels in the fact that he’s “a dick”.
Welp, congratulations KD, you’re really starting to sound like one.