Kevin Durant: Michael Jordan didn’t go through what I did
“Those people really mean a lot to me to this day,” he says. “No matter if they talk to me or they’re mad at me. Whether it’s Sam Presti or Troy Weaver or Russell Westbrook or Nick Collison. Whether it’s Wilson Taylor or Clay Bennett and his family, I love them from the bottom of my heart. We’re not talking, but eventually we will.
“I didn’t have that perspective at first. I didn’t have it when I went back to OKC. I was like, ‘F--k all of them.’ I didn’t have it when they gave my number away. I was, ‘F--k all of them.’ My best friend works for the team, I told him, ‘F--k all y’all. That’s f--ked up.’ Then I had to get out of my head, tell myself, ‘It’s not that serious, it is what it is.’ I understand it’s not my number anymore, they can do whatever they want with it, but you hand that number to a two-way player, you’ve got to be, like, ‘Nah, we’ve got too many good memories with this number, man.’ But at some point, that thing’s going to be in the rafters anyway; it’s all good. I did something they didn’t like. They did something I didn’t like. S--t happens. If I was on my death bed, I guarantee you Sam Presti and Russell Westbrook would come check on me. So I’m going to look at it that way rather than the other way.”
The obvious retort is that Jordan never left the Bulls for an easier path to a championship. That wasn’t necessarily Durant’s intention – he opened up about what a ring means to him and much more in Bucher’s piece – but it’s reality. Durant took a shortcut to a title by signing with the Warriors.
But it’s also true that social media gives Durant’s critics access to him that Jordan’s critics never had. Jordan himself admitted it would have been harder for him today.
Durant invites scorn, though. Despite clearly wanting to move on from the Oklahoma City drama on some level, he keeps bringing it up – which I appreciate, because that’s true to who he is. He’s someone who cares about the Thunder giving his old number to P.J. Dozier. He’s someone who can’t get past fans who said they cared about him as a person turning on him because he changed jobs. That’s authentic Durant, and he’s not afraid to reveal it. That approach also fuels his critics.
All Durant can do now is keep being true to himself and playing well, which goes a long way toward silencing detractors.