Quick Links

Durant objects to media coverage of Bryant, LeBron disagrees


Durant objects to media coverage of Bryant, LeBron disagrees

Kevin Durant made headlines with a pointed critique of the way the NBA media has covered Kobe Bryant lately. The Lakers legend announced Sunday that he would retire after this season. 

Speaking to reporters at shootaround in Atlanta Monday, Durant explained that he "did idolize" Bryant growing up. 

"I've been disappointed this year because you [media members] treated him like s---. He's a legend, and all I hear is about how bad he's playing, how bad he's shooting and it's time for him to hang it up," Durant said. "So hopefully now you can start being nice to him now that he decided to retire after this year."

He went on to say that he's "sensitive" about the NBA and how it's players are depicted, especially if he considers coverage to be undermining of the game.

"I understand not playing well and stuff; that's a part of it. But you can't treat Kobe like he's D'Angelo Russell when it comes to his coverage. Be a little more respectful to what he's brought to the game."

Durant also suggested personal grudges could play into negative commentary about Bryant. "These media people take it too personal, and when he doesn't play well, it's their turn to kill him because they might not have liked what he said or did."

His position generated some backlash on social media, but the masses weren't the only ones to see the situation differently. 

LeBron James was polite, but firm in disagreeing with Durant. "I don't really get involved in that side of things, but I don't see it that way," James said Tuesday as he prepared to face the Wizards. 

"I think [Bryant is] perceived as one of the most fierce competitors, a five-time champion, a two-time Finals MVP, 17 All-Star appearances. I think the media has done a great job of building Kobe as who he is today," James said. 

"There's no reason for me to say that the media has made him look a certain way throughout his career," James continued. "He's done unbelievable things and part of the reason why he's big as he is because obviously the work he's put into it, but also the coverage that we all get from you guys."

Durant clarified his original comments to ESPN.com on Tuesday, but didn't back off of his position. 

"I understand [the media] have to write about the game. Of course I understand that. Kobe hasn't played well, and his team hasn't played well, but did we expect that from them?," he asked. "It seems like everybody is happy that he's going out like this. Every game he's played on TV is about how terrible he looks, every article the next day is about how he should retire and give it up. Just killing him. I never hear about the Finals MVPs, the accolades."

Durant then contrasted Bryant's treatment with the celebratory send-offs other superstar athletes have and will receive. 

"[The media] did it for [New York Yankees great] Derek Jeter, they will do it for Tim Duncan when he leaves, even if he's playing bad. I know you gotta report the games, but you're going too in-depth about how bad [Bryant] is. You're almost kicking him out the league."

The back and forth about Bryant's legacy comes at an interesting time for the Wizards, who are scheduled to play James and the Cavaliers at 7 p.m. Tuesday night in Cleveland. They'll host Bryant and the Lakers Wednesday night at Verizon Center. 

While Durant and James discussed the media's role in Bryant's legacy, Wizards guard John Wall said he'd remember Bryant for the experience of playing against him. 

"My most memorable moment is when I blocked his shot and he told me get back on defense and he scored on me the next play," Wall said. "He’s one hell of a player. This league will never see nobody else like Kobe Bryant again. People were wondering where the torch was going after Michael Jordan. He’s never going to quit."

MORE WIZARDS: Wall: 'You’ll probably never see another Kobe Bryant'

Quick Links

Bradley Beal on his struggles, getting an apology from Scott Brooks

USA Today Sports Images

Bradley Beal on his struggles, getting an apology from Scott Brooks

Wizards head coach Scott Brooks remarked after Game 2 and following practice on Thursday that he was partly to blame for Bradley Beal's modest scoring output through two games in the team's playoff series against the Raptors. They weren't just throwaway lines, a coach trying to make his star player feel better for struggling in the playoffs.

No, Brooks truly meant what he said and followed up those comments with an apology face-to-face. Brooks met with Beal and John Wall in between Games 2 and 3 to see how they can get Beal going and reiterated that some of it all was on the coach.

"He apologized to me, which was weird because he's somebody who always holds me accountable for stuff," Beal said after Friday's shootaround. "I guess he figured I wasn't shooting the ball enough and he thought it was his fault. I don't know."

Beal, who is averaging 14.0 points in two games and scored only nine in Game 2, came away from the meeting with a good understanding of what he needs to do to get back on track. After apologizing, Brooks laid out a strategy in hopes that he, Wall and Beal can all be on the same page moving forward.

They need to get their All-Star shooting guard back to form on the offensive end.

"He just basically challenged me. He challenged me to be more aggressive on the offensive and defensive end," Beal said.

What has made Beal's scoring troubles through two games particularly surprising is how well he played against the Raptors during the regular season. He averaged 28.8 points in four games against Toronto and all were without Wall.

Beal shot 50 percent against the Raptors both from the field and from three. So far this series he's shooting just 39.3 percent from the field and 27.3 percent from long range.

Asked whether there is anything he can draw from the regular season to apply to the playoffs, Beal said it's not as easy as it may seem.

"Those games are different. The matchups are different to an extent. It's totally different in the playoffs because you have more time to prep and prepare and gameplan for us," he said. 

"I think the biggest thing is them being physical. They are real physical with me. Whenever I'm standing around on offense or moving around, they are grabbing me. I just need to be physical back with them. Keep moving off the ball and especially if Kyle [Lowry] is guarding me. Tire him out as much as possible. Continue to be aggressive."

Coaches use all sorts of leadership tactics to motivate players. Perhaps an apology will do the trick.




Quick Links

2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 3: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 3: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and the Washington Wizards battle Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Serge Ibaka and the Toronto Raptors on Friday night in Game 3 of the 2018 NBA Playoffs.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:


Series: Raptors lead 2-0
Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 8 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (pregame coverage begins at 7 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Do or die

If the Wizards lose on Friday night, the series will technically not be over. They will be down 0-3 with a home game up next and an opportunity to extend their season and send it all back to Toronto. That said, the odds would not be good. In fact, they would be pretty much as bad as they can be.

No team in NBA history has ever come back from down 0-3 in a series. So, unless the Wizards feel like they can make history, like UMBC over Virginia history, then they better win Game 3. 

Now, some teams have come close to making it happen. Three times before a team has gone down 0-3 and forced seven games. The last time was the 2003 Blazers, who fell in Game 7 to the Mavs. 

Recovering from an 0-3 deficit to win a seven-game series has happened in both baseball and hockey, most famously in 2004 when the Red Sox beat the Yankees to reach the World Series. At some point it will happen in basketball, but the chances are essentially next-to-none. The Wizards will be much better off by winning Game 3, just like they did last year when they went down 0-2 against the Celtics in the second round and forced a Game 7.

Beal and Otto

The Wizards are hoping to see more from both Bradley Beal and Otto Porter. It was a big topic of discussion at Thursday's practice how both guys need to be more aggressive in looking for their own shot. Beal was held to just nine points in Game 2 and Porter, the NBA's third-best three-point shooter, didn't even attempt one three.

Brooks held a meeting with Beal and John Wall to discuss how they can get Beal more opportunities, but ultimately it's up to him and Porter to force the issue for themselves. It would seem likely at least one of them breaks out in Game 3. They both were great against the Raptors during the regular season and both proved throughout the year that they can score against anybody.

Too many threes

The biggest reason the Wizards are down 0-2 in this series is the three-point shot. The Raptors have hit a ton of them and even though the Wizards have been intent on stopping them, they have had no such luck.

The Raptors hit 16 threes in the first game to set a playoff franchise record. They shot 51.7 percent from long range. In Game 2, they hit 13 and 11 were in the first half. They made seven of them in the first quarter alone to the tune of 44 points, the worst defensive quarter in the playoffs in Wizards franchise history since 1965.

This is how much the three-point shot matters: the Raptors' 11 first-half threes in Game 2 helped them outscore the Wizards by 18 points by halftime, but in the second half when they hit only two threes, the Wizards edged them by seven points. Washington has to stop the three-pointer, it's that simple.

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!

For more on the Wizards-Raptors series, check out or latest Wizards Tipoff podcast: