Kevin Durant has publicly pummeled himself into swollen submission, and he was the first to say he deserved every punch after falling thumbs first into the trap set by the monster we adore.
That would be social media and its maliciously seductive bait.
It’s addictive, and mesmerizing enough to have folks staring into the light of smartphones at all hours of the night or walking down the sidewalk at midday bumping into others caught up in the same maze.
Caught up in the insanity last Sunday, Durant got too honest and too cheeky. His response to a question posed on Twitter -- essentially seeking deeper reasons for his decision to leave Oklahoma City for the Warriors -- exposed some raw opinions, belittling his former Thunder teammates, as well as the organization while also directly criticizing coach Billy Donovan. Only star guard Russell Westbrook, the other half of what once was OKC’s dynamic duo, was spared.
It was KD unfiltered, inadvertently sharing with the Twitterverse the kinds of blunt assessments he most assuredly would rather keep confined to his inner circle. That much we can assume insofar as his points of view were issued in the third person.
After realizing firestorm ignited by his “oops” moment, Durant deleted both responses, though far too late to avoid embarrassment.
So there he was Tuesday on stage during TechCrunch Disrupt SF summit, smacking himself with both fists, kicking himself with both feet and offering up a stream of apologies that seemed as sincere as any we’ve heard from someone caught in a compromising position.
“I use Twitter to engage with fans,” Durant said. “I happened to take it a little too far.
“That’s what happens sometime when I get into these basketball debates about what I really love, to play basketball. I don’t regret clapping back at anybody or talking to my fans on Twitter. I do regret using my former coach’s name and the former organization I played for.
“That was childish. That was idiotic, all those types of words. I regret doing that and I apologize for that.”
Durant, who according to USA Today sent a personal apology to Donovan, didn’t stop the self-flagellation there.
“I look like an idiot,” he told the newspaper. “My peers are going to look at me like an idiot. All the jokes -- bring ‘em. I deserve it.
“The second I realized what I did, I felt like (bleep). Like I said, I look at that stuff as a joke and a big game. Sometimes when I’m in it, I take it too far and I’m in it too much, too deep. But it’s just out of sight, out of mind. I won’t fall into that problem again. I definitely have to move on and not worry about anybody on Twitter, even though it’s fun. You know what I mean?”
The many available forms of social media can be fun indeed. They can, if properly utilized, be informative. They also represent a form of conversation rife with pitfalls.
Rarely a week goes by without a high profile individual -- athletes, entertainers, politicians et al -- going full jackass on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram or some other device. Photos of private parts meant for an individual have been inadvertently shared and, therefore, gone viral.
How many poor souls that have fallen into this trap been forced to respond by saying they’ve been hacked?
A man like Durant, with almost 17 million Twitter followers, deserves kudos for taking the time to engage with his audience. But once down that path, it can be exceedingly perilous. Durant disclosed that his gaffe was upsetting enough to disrupt both his appetite and sleep pattern.
Honesty is a noble trait. Brutal honesty can be provocative. Brutal honesty attached to withering critique can result in disastrous consequences.
Durant is a smart guy who made a dumb mistake. He stepped into muck that was hip deep. This is going to stick to him for a while, as it should.
It’s a harsh lesson, but some of the most enduring lessons are learned the hard way.