For 99.99999% of us, it’s impossible to have any real understanding of what it’s like to be Kevin Durant.
Maybe in the broadest strokes we can sense what motivates him — making money, winning championships, being recognized as the best basketball player on the planet — but regular people who aren’t almost 7 feet tall with a near-perfect jump shot and extraterrestrial agility don’t have any real context for how someone like Durant actually lives his life.
But on social media, Durant is all of us.
He’s way too accessible on Twitter and Instagram. He’s hilariously defensive, especially for a two-time NBA Finals MVP. He sees and hears everything, and he doesn’t always have enough discipline when it comes to hitting the reply button.
And when Durant has too much time on his hands, like he did during the Western Conference finals when his Golden State Warriors teammates swept Portland without his assistance, his Internet feuds with everyone from a random fan to Fox Sports commentator Chris Broussard can make him look petty, small and incredibly thin-skinned.
To which I say … keep going, KD!
Unlike nearly every other athlete of his stature who pretends that they don’t pay attention to the noise or care about the things we write and you say about them, Durant clearly does. And it would be intellectually dishonest to criticize him for that because, guess what? It turns out the best basketball player in the league has an emotional compass that isn’t much different than me or you or anyone who has made the conscious choice to be part of social media. And he doesn’t mind letting us know it.
“Of course, I’m on my Instagram, on Twitter, just like the rest of my peers,” Durant told Yahoo! Sports last year. “So what’s the problem if I got something to say? It’s just because I do it. If you have something to say, don’t get mad because I say something.”
Kevin Durant has missed the Warriors' last five games. (Photo: Troy Taormina, USA TODAY Sports)
Durant’s potential to make a social media splash is, in some ways, the back-burner story line that hangs just on the periphery of the NBA Finals. Ultimately, his Instagram is going to have nothing to do with what happens on the court. But we already know that when prominent commentators suggest that the Warriors are better without Durant, it triggers his insecurities.
In the last round of the playoffs, he went after a Warriors fan on Instagram who wrote a seemingly innocuous comment about people who doubted them without Durant. And then he got into a very public back-and-forth with Broussard, who called the Warriors’ dominance without him “Kevin Durant’s worst nightmare.”
Should someone as gifted and accomplished as Durant be above that? Perhaps. But he is who he is. Durant is the guy, after all, who once created fake Twitter accounts to anonymously defend himself against random critics. If that’s how much he cares about the conversation around him at age 30, it’s not going to change.
And in the end, who’s it really hurting?
Frankly, we should probably be more appreciative of how far he’s willing to go to be real on social media. He’s not going to fake it when he’s mad or go into a passive-aggressive shell the way a lot of his peers do when they get fed up with the media or the relentless negativity from fans who have a direct line to an app on players' phones.
There’s no way to know what it’s really like to be Durant, but don’t we at least kind of get him? From the very beginning of Twitter, which coincided with his rise into an NBA superstar, he’s left no mystery about the things that bother him and the kinds of critiques that will generate a response. No matter how much money he’s made or how many points he’s scored, Durant has made it very clear over the years that he’ll engage just about anyone — literally — who is critical of him.
MORE NBA FINALS COVERAGE:
OH, CANADA: Toronto ready for spotlight with Raptors in first NBA Finals
ZILLGITT:Has Kevin Durant played last game with Warriors?
BY THE NUMBERS:Warriors' historic streak
So if you’re as good at basketball as Durant, and everyone you pay attention to is talking about how your absence from key playoff games due to injury doesn’t really seem to matter, of course that’s going to hurt. You wouldn’t be human if it didn’t.
Durant is obviously incapable of keeping that inside, and that’s totally fine. If hitting the send button is his therapy, Durant should keep doing it all the way through this series, whether he plays or not, and on to whatever his next destination might be.
Because one thing’s for sure about this era in which social media increasingly has a hold of our time: None of us are going to stop taking about him.
Follow USA TODAY Sports' columnist Dan Wolken on Twitter @DanWolken
Source: Read Full Article