In the annals of NBA history, there have been some great beefs. Shaq vs. Kobe. Charles Barkley vs. Charles Oakley. Kevin Durant vs. Some Kid On Instagram.
Wait … one of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn’t belong.
It all started when an Instagram user named “Bucketscenter,” the handle of teenage basketball commentator Kalyb Champion, questioned Durant’s leadership, along with that of Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis, in a post.
The caption read, “3 elite two-way players but don’t elevate a team quite like LeBron [James] and Steph [Curry] due to their playmaking/leadership deficiencies.” It appeared to be a slam on Durant’s role on the Warriors as a perceived mercenary who pulled an “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” after Golden State bounced his Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2016 Western Conference Finals.
Rather than ignoring the dig, Durant decided to hit back, saying, “Bruh go sweep ya dorm room, u don’t know hoops. Stop tagging me in this trash.”
A storm of direct messages ensued, proving little beyond Durant really needs to find something more productive to do with his offseason.
At one point, Durant called the 17-year-old Champion a “middle school/knock off Stephen A,” referring to ESPN’s blowhard hot-take factory Stephen A. Smith.
Champion fired back, “You know it’s true that’s why your insecure ass responded to me. Why don’t you actually prove you can LEAD a team to a championship. Not even in the same galaxy as LeBron.”
Durant, addressing the perceived smelling of blood in the social media water, said to Champion, “Nah buddy you’re like 12, your opinion will not be used as any motivation. Y’all got people thinking that since I get buckets in the nba I’m too big and famous to be a black man at 7pm on a Tuesday, scrolling through Instagram. Lol y’all are too funny. I like Instagram. I like basketball. You GOTS to be trippin if I’m not gonna chime in every here and there lol ha.”
Leaving aside the dubious merits of Champion’s core argument — Durant is a two-time champion and NBA Finals MVP — Durant really needs to learn the internet adage “don’t feed the trolls.”
In recent years, Durant’s decision to join the Warriors, even though it achieved exactly the desired result for player and team alike with those two rings and the Finals MVP honors that went with them, has drawn the ire of fans, who tend to cry foul when talent concentrates in one place for too long in basketball.
Unlike, say, Bill Russell and Magic Johnson, who between them appeared in 21 NBA Finals in 25 years in their careers (not counting Magic’s abortive comeback with the Lakers in the mid-1990s) and played their entire careers with the teams that drafted them, a common thread in the NBA before free agency came along, Durant chose to abandon his original team.
Curry, meanwhile, whom Champion singled out as a leader, was drafted by the team for which he’s won three rings, which in the eyes of many fans makes him a better player by default. Likewise, LeBron’s title in Cleveland is given greater weight by fans than the two he won in Miami.
But Durant is not Russell or Magic or Steph or LeBron. He is Kevin Durant, a guy who signed with the best team in the league and managed to be the best player on the game’s biggest stage even with a cast of superstars around him.
Yet somehow, he still feels the need to start arguments with teenagers on social media.
Be better, KD.
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