The Golden State Warriors helped Kevin Durant win an NBA title, but that doesn’t mean Oklahoma City Thunder fans are over the way he left town to do it. And those in the Bay Area seem more than willing to make sure they remember how it went down.
A Bay Area paper featured Durant on its front page on Thursday and used every opportunity to tweak those Durant left behind in Oklahoma City. The San Francisco Examiner called him “Mr. Reliable” in the headline and “selfless” in a subhed. Both caught the eye of a lot of people in Oklahoma City.
The big slight here is the headline, which is the inverse of the famous Oklahoman headline that called Durant “Mr. Unreliable” during a 2014 playoff series against Memphis. That’s about as direct as it gets when it comes to trolling.
But the “selfless” term also fits the bill as well. It was first used by Durant to describe the Warriors shortly after he signed there. In the quote, Durant called Golden State players “selfless” and said they “enjoy the game game in its purest form.”
Russell Westbrook, not surprisingly, wasn’t a fan of that phrasing, which he thought implied that the Thunder were full of selfish players that didn’t play the game the right way. Fans were also not happy about Durant being characterized as selfless, given that they feel title hunting elsewhere is a level of selfishness worthy of forever booing him and calling him a cupcake.
Depending on the lens you use, Durant is all of these things and more. He’s a selfish player when he’s on the court with Golden State, often sacrificing statistical greatness for the greater good of the team.
And yet, in leaving the Oklahoma City he focused on his own career goals over the greater good of the previous team he was drafted by. You can certainly call that selfish, especially if you’re a part of the fan base Durant left behind. There is something to be said for the agency players are granted in their freedom of movement, and maybe fans will be more forgiving of that someday as player movement becomes more common. But for now, we have a newspaper trolling another newspaper over a basketball player, and a bunch of emoting fans stuck in between.