Kevin Durant broke his media silence on Wednesday night, and he had plenty of things to say.
For nine days, amid the approaching trade deadline and free agency rumors, Durant declined to speak to the media. Specifically, his disappearance coincided with the New York Knicks‘ blockbuster trade that sent Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks, a move that opens up two max salary spots for the Knicks in the summer.
That only furthered the speculation that Durant would leave the Warriors to go play in Madison Square Garden, and a story by Ethan Sherwood Strauss in The Athletic on Wednesday went so far as to suggest that most people around the league expect it to happen.
“Let us be frank, with the caveat that the choice lives inside the head of one guy who can and does change his mind,” Strauss wrote. “Insiders around the league think Kevin Durant is leaving the Warriors for the Knicks.”
Following the Warriors’ comfortable 141-102 win over the Spurs, Durant spoke about free agency speculation, Strauss’ story and his general frustration with the media. It was a tense, awkward session included Durant calling Strauss out by name. Later on, he also told the gathered reporters, “I don’t trust none of y’all.”
The full exchange (these are different reporters speaking to Durant, not all the same one):
Reporter: You haven’t talked for a while. Is it anything to do with anything on your mind, or has it just been coincidence?
Durant: Why do you care?
Reporter: Because you usually talk.
Durant: I didn’t feel like talking the last couple days.
Reporter: Is it anything in particular?
Reporter: Did it have anything to do with the conversation about free agency?
Durant: That’s the conversation you gonna have. I don’t think about that type of stuff. That’s your job.
Reporter: You’ve obviously been around the noise. Does it bother you more this year? Is it louder?
Durant: It’s unnecessary. You got a dude Ethan Strauss who come in here and give his whole opinion on stuff and make it seem like it’s coming from me. He just walk around here, don’t talk to nobody, survey, and write something like that. And now y’all piling on me because I don’t want to talk to y’all about that. I have nothing to do with the Knicks. I don’t know who traded [Kristaps] Porzingis. It ain’t got nothing to do with me. I’m trying to play basketball. Y’all come in here every day ask me about free agency, ask my teammates, my coaches, rile up the fans about it. Let us play basketball. That’s all I’m saying. And now when I don’t wanna talk to y’all, it’s a problem on me. Come on man. Grow up. Grow up. Yeah, you [looking at Strauss]. Grow up. Come on bruh. I come in here and go to work every day. I don’t cause no problems. I play the right way, or I try to play the right way. I try to be the best player I can be every possession. What’s the problem? What am I doing to y’all?
Reporter: You weren’t talking. You weren’t talking to the media …
Durant: So! Who are you? Why do I gotta talk to you? Tell me. Is that gonna help me do my job better? Nah. I didn’t feel like talking.
Reporter: You’re not usually quiet. You usually share your opinions on stuff. So everybody’s trying to figure out what’s going on. We’re all getting questions from fans like, ‘what’s wrong with Kevin?’ We just tell them, ‘he’s playing OK but he’s just not talking right now.’
Durant: I just don’t trust none of y’all. Every time I say something it gets twisted up and thrown out in so many different publications — try to take me down with my words that I say. So when I don’t say nothing, that’s a problem. I just wanna play ball. I wanna go to the gym and go home. That’s all. Is that a problem?
There is … a lot to unpack here. Durant has some legitimate gripes about the incessant coverage of player movement, especially when he can’t make his final decision for months. Reporters — understandably — are constantly digging for information, and the coverage during the trade deadline and free agency seasons often treats players as simply moving pieces on a giant game board rather than actual human beings.
At the same time, facing the media is also a part of the job he’s signed up for and that makes hundreds of millions of dollars to do. And unfortunately for Durant, avoiding the media altogether only makes the attention and questions grow. He’s absolutely right that a lot of the coverage can be annoying, but most of the time it’s just people trying to do their jobs and make a living as well.