A perennial star is a term that will always be applied to Kevin Durant’s career. His skill set as a 6-foot-10 forward will see him regarded as one of the elite scorers of our time, if not in history. Even so, Durant’s popularity amongst fans has regressed in recent years. Why? Looking at his resume won’t give you any answers. If anything, a review of his career tells a completely alternative storyline that would immediately attract a new fan that had no idea of his past drama.
In fact, Durant’s reputation may have reached an overwhelming climax that he’s openly absorbed. The “villain” persona has become an aura that envelopes the Washington, D.C. native wherever he goes now. His decision to leave the Golden State Warriors during the 2019 offseason shouldn’t of set off any fans given his history. Yet now, more than ever, it seems that the 10-time All-Star has found a difficulty communicating with the open NBA fan base, regardless of how simple his message may be. He could simply tweet “Love” for instance and would be met with an ensemble of snake emojis, a picture that his eyes surely has adjusted to as a normalcy over the past few years.
After being picked with the No. 2 pick by the Seattle Supersonics in the 2007 NBA Draft, Durant was seen as the savior to a long-forgotten franchise. As the franchise eventually transitioned to Oklahoma City, so did Durant’s game in terms of transitioning to another level. He won his first and only MVP award while with Oklahoma in 2014, thus beginning his rise to becoming a fan favorite. The difference between now and then? He hadn’t given people a reason to strongly dislike him yet.
After having arguably one of the most disappointing exits to a franchise after leaving the Thunder for the Warriors, Durant became practically disposed of to a majority of the NBA fan base. One would naturally assume that most of his backlash would come from a heartbroken OKC fan base, yet they only contribute a small portion of the loathed mob that was against Durant.
What made matters worse? His undeniable urge to have his phone super glued to his hands is one reason. If “the quiet game” was something regularly played on Twitter, Durant would either not play at all or be the first one out. Every star in the league has been met with a barrage of demeaning takes in how they’ve handled their respected careers; Durant is one of the only few, possibly ever, to actually engage in a back-and-forth heated debate with fans online. At this point, it’s actually become a regularly scheduled program for most fans that are looking to rile up the superstar.
He could’ve very well took the Kawhi Leonard route: let your play do the talking. For all the criticism that Leonard’s drawn for often lobbying powerful demands from front offices in a silent manner, he never utters a word to the public crowd, thus saving face as he continues to cement his legacy. The Kyrie Irving route wouldn’t be strongly recommended, seeing as how his fellow teammate has often found trouble in getting the crowds to resonate with him as well.
Take his meltdown of a departure with the Warriors for instance. Everyone watching the on-court war of words between both he and Draymond Green knew that Durant would be moving on from Golden State at the end of the season, regardless if they won the championship or not. Even so, somehow Green’s simple statement to Durant tells the entire story of what online fans have been trying to communicate to him for years: “We don’t need you. We won without you. Leave.”
Absolutely no one should make the case that Kevin Durant was indebted to the Thunder franchise simply because he was drafted by them. He was a No. 2 pick, that unmistakably should’ve went first, and was free to do as he pleased upon his entrance into free agency. Very few ever dreamed of him trailing off on the path that he did though. The Warriors never needed him. His die-hard fans don’t need him to smell out a Twitter argument whenever boredom strikes. Even now, the Nets don’t need him to carry over the same despondent vibes that’ve crossed over state lines from one franchise to another.
All that fans have ever wanted Durant to do, was well, be Durant. A Durant without the antics and having an emotionally driven, outspoken agenda was what all three franchises and fan bases have desired. It’s even what the better part of the entire NBA fan base has wished for.
Has Kevin Durant somehow been morphed into the “villain” picture in the NBA yearbook? Surely, but it’s only because he was the photographer and the subject of that yearbook picture.