Warriors coach Steve Kerr says ‘restless’ Kevin Durant drifted off after 1st title, needed recognition for beating LeBron James
The cornucopia of nuggets stemming from the breakup between Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors are slowly trickling out week after week. The latest, a conversation between coach Steve Kerr and Bill Simmons of The Ringer, revealed Durant needed recognition and the validation for besting LeBron James in the NBA Finals.
Durant helped the Warriors to a 3-0 lead with an iconic pull-up 3-point jumper right over the outstretched arm of James, eventually taking the series against his Cleveland Cavaliers in five games. Yet according to Simmons, he expected some validation for knocking down James, who was long viewed as the NBA’s best player.
Kerr, who was a guest on Simmons’ The Book of Basketball 2.0 podcast, traded thoughts with the longtime basketball aficionado.
Transcript via Drew Shiller of NBC Sports Bay Area:
Simmons: “My theory — I’m not sure if I’m right — but I think he thought when he won the title that first year… and he really outdueled LeBron — I think leaving that series, people were like, ‘Wow, that guy was just better than LeBron in a Finals,’ — and he thought that was gonna be it: ‘KD made the right move.’
“And instead people were like, ‘F**k that guy, we’re still not giving it to you.’ And I could feel it in him in the interviews, this kind of, ‘What else do I have to do? I just went toe-to-toe with LeBron James and I won. What else do I have to do?'”
Kerr: “You nailed it. The same reason we got Kevin in the first place was the reason we lost him — he was restless. His first year with us, he was a sponge and he would ask questions constantly. It’s a very different style of play and he was playing with different players. I think he embraced it and he enjoyed it.
“The following year, I felt like Kevin started to drift. My feeling was he started to get restless, like, ‘This is all there is? We won the title last year, we’re rolling again this year, but whatever it is I’m searching for, I’m still not finding it.’
“We had a really good thing and then you could just feel it start to slip. And I don’t know if it was what you mentioned — Kevin felt like he was now the King of the NBA, but nobody was recognizing him for that. He dominated LeBron in those Finals.”
Simmons: “I could feel him — just in various interactions — really frustrated with that.”
Simmons: “Almost like, ‘I’m just never gonna get the credit for this, and I thought I would, and now I’m not. So now what?
Kerr: “Right, right. Yeah.”
Durant has been hungrily pursuing his best basketball self, and while he claims to have left the Bay Area for the same reason he left Oklahoma City — to pursue new ventures — many have been left puzzled by his choice.
While he comes off as forthcoming, there’s the perception of a need for validation that roams the air — one which Durant has yet to get from the basketball world, despite his achievements on the court.