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By September 6, 2022
These days, many people around the NBA are down on Kevin Durant.
He is arguably the league’s best player, but his tendency to want out of his current team every few years has left plenty of observers and fans with a bad taste in their mouths.
Following two disappointing seasons with the Brooklyn Nets, Durant asked to be traded earlier this summer, and although he has apparently rededicated himself to the team, his reputation seemingly hasn’t recovered.
Former NBA superstar and Hall of Famer Charles Barkley
Barkley’s colleague on TNT’s “Inside The NBA,” Shaquille O’Neal, himself a retired legend, agreed that Durant’s career has been a “failure.”
“Charles Barkley is calling Kevin Durant’s career outside of Golden State an ‘abject failure’ … Do you agree?”@SHAQ: “Yeah. … If you’re the guy and you ain’t get it done, that means you failed.”#TheBigPodcast: https://t.co/1ccPgWJWvs pic.twitter.com/7RiqPAoUDu
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) September 1, 2022
Barkley mentioned the fact Durant hasn’t, in his mind, been “the driver of the bus” for both of his championships with the Golden State Warriors, and O’Neal piggybacked on that opinion, pointing to a big failure Durant had as the best player on the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“If you go back and look at his career and being the leader and all that goes with that,” O’Neal said. “We were there. We saw OKC up 3-1. One more game, when you’re the guy, all the pressure goes on you.”
O’Neal was talking about the 2016 Western Conference Finals, when the Thunder held a 3-1 series lead over the 73-win Warriors, only to lose the next three contests, including a Game 6 at home where they blew a late lead.
In that contest, Durant went an icy 10-of-31 from the field.
But it was what he did weeks later that started to tarnish his reputation in the minds of many.
Before 2016, Durant seemed to have a squeaky-clean image, and he was even one of the more liked superstars in basketball.
Remember when he won the regular season MVP award and gave a classy speech while accepting the trophy?
"You the real MVP."
On This Date: In 2014, Kevin Durant's iconic MVP speech brought the room to tears 🙏 pic.twitter.com/zkVeKKOhrV
Durant has fallen a long way from the heights he seemed to hit that day.
Shortly after losing that series to the Warriors in 2016, Durant became a free agent, and after considering offers from multiple teams, he decided to sign with those same Warriors, a team that had just won 73 games and had come a couple of plays away from winning back-to-back world titles.
Suddenly, the narrative about Durant was that he was mentally weak and that he didn’t want to compete or earn a ring.
Although a strong argument could be made that Golden State needed him to win the NBA championship in 2017 and 2018 and that he was also its best player both years, no one seems to be willing to cede that to him.
During the 2018-19 season, Durant seemingly had one foot out the door as he neared the opt-out year of his contract, drawing the ire of teammates such as Draymond Green.
He did indeed leave, teaming up with Kyrie Irving in the New York City metropolitan area.
Most NBA fans today consider Durant a whiner and complainer, and prominent sports personality Colin Cowherd even accused him of having “destination addiction,” which is a psychological term that means someone thinks true happiness is always somewhere other than where they are.
Durant’s only option is to lead the Nets to a world championship, but luckily, they do have a roster that seems capable of doing just that.
Filed Under: NBA
Robert is a Los Angeles-area native and has been an avid NFL and NBA fan since he was a little kid. He feels strongly that pro sports aren’t just a form of entertainment, but also a great way to learn life lessons and find inspiration.
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