OAKLAND – Kevin Durant on Tuesday unveiled plans to embrace the kind of unambiguous candor that surely will reveal more of his true self.
Durant didn’t exactly put it that way, but in the wake of comments he made Monday night that he feels were magnified by media, the Warriors forward was clear in saying he no longer will sidestep issues that he perceives as sensitive or might be misconstrued.
“Man, whatever I say is going to be twisted up,” he said after going through a 90-minute practice. “So I can’t . . . I’m just going to say how I feel from now on. People that know me know what I mean, so it is what it is. Anything I say will be twisted up and be a headline. So it is what it is.”
The key phrase here is this: “I’m just going to say how I feel from now on.”
The interpretation is that Durant in the past generally had, out of discretion or propriety or personal etiquette, taken measures to avoid sheer honesty.
And maybe he had. Durant for most of his career has been portrayed by friends and associates as someone sensitive to his image as well as that of those close to him. They say he’s a quality individual who occasionally is susceptible to saying the safe thing to avoid further probing or scrutiny.
Durant’s new-leaf statement came less than 18 hours after he confirmed that his summertime decision to sign with the Warriors was influenced by their loss in the NBA Finals. In short, watching the Warriors lose the Finals made the idea of joining them even more attractive than it already was.
The news was that Durant finally admitted what a long-suspected element in his decision. The general belief was that it would have been more difficult to leave a contending team in Oklahoma City to join a team that had won back-to-back NBA championships.
A team that reached The Finals by beating Durant’s Thunder in the Western Conference Finals.
A team that won an NBA-record 73 games in the preceding regular season.
How on earth could Kevin Durant, as magnificent as he is, obtain professional profit by joining the unquestioned best team on earth?
By losing to the Cavaliers in The Finals, the Warriors proved to be flawed. They needed . . . something. They were missing . . . something. They were good, mighty good, but they also were defeated, thereby becoming the first team in NBA history to give back a 3-1 lead in The Finals.
Durant had a full two weeks, from Game 7 on the evening of June 19 until he chose the Warriors on the morning of July 4, to absorb it all. He could review his Thunder career, ponder the past and present and the future. He could examine and research the Warriors, what he liked and did not like, and visualize his potential effect.
So there was Durant on Monday night, sitting with Warriors CEO Joe Lacob, general manager Bob Myers and teammate Andre Iguodala at a ceremony in which the Warriors received the ENCORE award by the Stanford Graduate School of Business. The questions were coming, and they were answering.
On the subject of what he would done if the Warriors had won The Finals, Durant didn’t answer that directly but gave a response to the facts that shot straighter and more extensively than he has at any time since he was introduced by his new team on July 7.
"As they lost, it became more and more real every day," Durant recalled. "You start to think about it even more. To see if I would fit. Then, once I sat down with these guys, everything that I wanted to know about them, they kind of showed me. But we don't have to talk about (what would have happened if the Warriors won The Finals), because they didn't get the job done, and they came after me.
"I guess you could say I'm glad that they lost."
Glad because it made his decision easier. Durant knew he then was positioned to make a difference, to get a team back to the top rather than help it stay there. Such circumstances produced a bigger, juicier carrot.
And now that he has made the jump, Durant knows the microscope will stalk him every hour. He is vowing there will be no smokescreens. Can he stick by this new commitment to gospel truth? Can he consistently express and say what he truly feels?
Let’s hope so, for a more candid Durant would eliminate the need to guess.