Kevin Durant thought an NBA championship would validate him across NBA fandom.
But he might be the only person on Earth that didn’t predict that his joining the Golden State Warriors—a team that won 73 games the year before, came back from down 3-1 to beat his Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals, only lost in the 2016 NBA Finals due to a controversial suspension, and probably would have won the 2017 championship with you or I taking Durant’s roster spot and planting our butt on the end of the bench—would weaken his case for greatness in at least some fans’ eyes.
And according to Royce Young, who’s been covering the Thunder since 2008, it truly upsets the 2017 NBA Finals MVP. Which is why he lashes out at fans on social media.
“He can be very up and down, very hot and cold,” Young said of Durant on The Dan Le Batard Show on Wednesday. “With Durant, the only thing that’s different is that now he does have kind of a confidence. And I don’t say this in a negative way, but one of the things Kevin loves to do is he loves to talk basketball to people, get on Twitter, mix it up and argue. And it drove him crazy that any time he wanted to do those sort of things, that people would throw it in his face that he wasn’t a champion. Now I think that he kind of feels like, ‘I’m a champion, and I can go on and I can win any Twitter argument because I’ve got the trump card now, I can say that I’m the champion.’ And people are still not validating that, it’s driving him crazy.”
Young then referenced the time Durant called Kawhi Leonard “a system player” after the San Antonio Spurs won the 2014 NBA championship.
Durant asked, “Put Paul George on the Spurs and what would happen?”
“I remember there was a situation where he kind of called out Kawhi Leonard about being a system player on Twitter,” Young said. “People jumped all over and said, ‘You can’t talk that way about a champion when you haven’t done that.’ And that drove Durant nuts. That really, really bothered him. I think what you’re seeing right now is that Kevin Durant’s a little more confident to jump out there on Twitter, and, as a result of it, you’re seeing what sometimes is a little bit of a mess.”
The good news for Durant: He has a lot of time to get used to fans’ feeling he didn’t do as much to earn his ring as other champions have.
Because it’s never going away.