Only two days after ESPN’s Thunder beat reporter Royce Young said on a podcast that Kevin Durant told Russell Westbrook, “Hey, I’m coming back, man. Don’t worry about it,” Durant himself has publicly denied the report in no uncertain terms, plainly stating, “It’s false.” There’s no fire to this smoke.
Now, Young has walked back his comments, saying that rather than quoting Durant, he was simply using those words to try to explain Westbrook’s mindset coming out of their pre-free agency meeting. Yet this isn’t the first time Young has made subtle digs at the betrayal some felt at Durant’s departure.
In the immediate wake of KD’s decision to leave Oklahoma City for the Bay Area to join the Warriors, Young cited sources around the organization who characterized Durant as “impulsive,” and feared that he could be swayed in the moment by a powerful recruiting pitch, rather than what was the right decision for him. Time and time again, Young has emphasized how blindsided the Thunder were by Durant’s departure, and in doing so this time, he overstated that sentiment, and drew on Durant’s familiar ire at the media.
“I didn’t say that – words about me telling Russell or Nick that I would stay or leave never came out of my mouth. We met as teammates, but no promises came out of it. In this day and age, I can’t control anything people claim out there. Someone can go out and say something random right now, and people will believe it.”
Whether intentionally or unintentionally, Young has fed the perception among hurt OKC fans that Durant has been somehow duplicitous, or at the very least capricious with his decision to leave the only organization he had ever known. It’s fair to feel that way, considering the emotional bond he had developed with the city, but it does a disservice to Durant by implying that he was anything other than an adult making an informed decision about his professional and personal life.