If nothing else, you have to respect Kevin Durant for staying on brand at all times. The Brooklyn Nets completed one of the most disappointing seasons of all time by being swept in the first round by the Boston Celtics, and being the first team eliminated from the 2022 NBA Playoffs. Their experiment didn’t work. They gut their roster to acquire James Harden last season. Jarrett Allen turned into an All-Star, the defense got worse, the Nets lost three first-round picks, and from Jan. 2021 to Feb. 22 the trio of Harden, Durant, and Kyrie Irving played in 16 total games together. Since the Nets acquired Irving and Durant prior to the 2019-20 season, they have won exactly one playoff series (yes I know that Durant did not play that first season.)
The Nets season may have ended last night with them trying to wring some desperate minutes and charges out of Blake Griffin and Scott Foster barging in like a wrestling heel, ejecting Jayson Tatum on that phantom sixth foul, but no force on earth was going to extend that series another game.
The morning after, is Durant packing for vacation, maybe, but not without addressing something that Charles Barkley said on Sunday night. Barkley needed to get something off his chest — shocker. He felt that Trae Young was not getting criticized harshly enough for his shortcomings against a stout Miami Heat defense. So being one of the greatest to ever host a television program, Ernie Johnson threw at Barkely what about Kevin Durant’s struggles against the Celtics. Barkley and Durant have had their issues in the past so he hesitated momentarily, but this is Charles Barkely, he can’t, and won’t sidestep a topic. He made the point that when Kevin Durant has been the undisputed best player on his team, they’ve never won a championship.
Durant has apparently been holding onto that for a couple of days and let his feelings be known on Instagram with four pictures of Barkley as a player. One is of Barkley on the court in what looks like his rookie season with a murders row of teammates in Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Andrew Toney, and Maurice Cheeks. There’s a picture of him in all-star jerseys with Cheeks and Erving, and two Houston Rockets photos with Barkley alongside Hakeem Olajuwon, one with Clyde Drexler and one from that awful lockout season with Scottie Pippen.
Ironically, Durant missed the most loaded team that Barkley played on with the Phoenix Suns and young all-stars Kevin Johnson and Dan Majerle. Durant didn’t stop there. He took to Twitter for those who dare question him for going after Barkley. NBA Twitter star World Wide Wob, made a great point that the NBA on TNT production crew might make the entire show out of him tonight. Their Gone Fishin’ picture last night of Irving leading the Nets to the end of the flat earth while wearing a tin foil hat was truly a chef’s kiss. Durant responded to him with, “An army of producers against the god. Just another Tuesday.”
Durant went back and forth with a few more accounts, and honestly, I respect him for it. With the money that he has, two championship rings, and an MVP, there’s no reason to respond to anything and create dozens of stories like this one you’re currently reading. It’s better to call someone from the locker room to pack your bags, book a hotel, a flight, pick you up and take you to JFK Airport immediately for a two-week vacation. I might send a message to some loved ones to not bother me, but then my phone is on Do Not Disturb. But that’s why most of us aren’t one of the greatest 15 players in NBA history. Durant stuck his face right in the buzzsaw after arguably the worst performance of his entire career in this first-round loss at the age of 33.
The man does not waver. He enjoys playing ball, his podcast, and taking to social media to defend himself against people who dare besmirch his name. He said in an interview with Barkley earlier in the season that he engages on Twitter is different from why he did in the days of his burner accounts. He now just thinks it’s a part of life and it’s best to simply adapt.
No criticism is too small for him to respond, even if more than 24 hours have passed. Durant doesn’t break character, and as strange as I might find that character at least he’s consistent.