Kevin Durant should hit critics right back

Oct 6, 2016; San Jose, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) looks towards an official during a break in the action against the Sacramento Kings in the first quarter at the SAP Center. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 6, 2016; San Jose, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) looks towards an official during a break in the action against the Sacramento Kings in the first quarter at the SAP Center. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports /

Kevin Durant has endured a lot of unfair criticism since deciding to join the Warriors. It’s time for him to speak his mind and fight back.

Kevin Durant decided to make a change in his life. After a decade in one place, he chose to work and live in a different region that offered him more opportunities, both on a professional and personal level. And he was killed for it.

Look, I understand that Durant meant a lot to Oklahoma City. Just like how the Supersonics meant a lot to Seattle. It absolutely sucks to have something so important to a community taken away from you.

But therein lies in the problem: no one took Kevin Durant away. By all means, the Thunder had all the chances in the world to keep him. Instead, the organization felt it was better to not pay James Harden and that guys like Derek Fisher and Dion Waiters were more than enough for the title hopeful team. They decided that letting Durant and Russell Westbrook carry the entire load would work. They never proved to their generational talent that they were truly worth the key part of his career.

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Following Durant’s decision to join the Golden State Warriors, all of these character flaws suddenly appeared out of thin air. People who get paid to write about basketball were attacking his personal relationships. He was called a traitor for leaving an organization that turned its back on him years ago.

Durant stayed silent. Even as the writers he cooperated with for nearly a decade typed out their emotions. Even as experts questioned his integrity as a competitor. Even as the fans he worked so hard to entertain set his name on fire.

He allowed his character to be attacked, understanding that his decision was unpopular. He became public enemy no. 1 for wanting to avoid becoming the next great laughingstock like Charles Barkley or Karl Malone; greats who never won a championship. He let it happen.

Every single thing he does is analyzed and dissected. Hurt Thunder fans have tried to change history, retroactively placing the blame for the team’s woes on Durant. He’s the best player to ever suit up for OKC and yet, now, he’s what was wrong with the team. He is what stopped Westbrook from leading the team to the promised land. He threw the Western Conference Finals.

Durant is done with that, though. He’s over having his words be misconstrued. He’s frustrated with being the target of projections and assumptions that couldn’t be any further from the truth. And he’s no longer going to put up with it (via CSN Bay Area):

"“Man, whatever I say is going to be twisted up,” he said after going through a 90-minute practice. “So I can’t . . . I’m just going to say how I feel from now on. People that know me know what I mean, so it is what it is. Anything I say will be twisted up and be a headline. So it is what it is.”"

He wants to take control of his own narratives. For far too long, he’s been the nice guy that begrudgingly accepted the “Mr. Unreliable” moniker.  He let it all fall on him even when he was set up to fail.

Durant is a Golden State Warrior now. He knows what the stakes are. He’s the biggest bad guy on the league’s legion of super-villains. So now is the time for him to hit back.

Critics have a right to argue about the basketball. Talking about his romantic relationships is as low as you can get though. Fabricating false narratives about him being easily influenced his irresponsible. Pretending like all of these flaws were always there and a genuine concern is lazy. Claiming that his decision wasn’t well-throught out is just silly.

Yelling that a league dominated by a handful of teams over the course of its entire history has been suddenly ruined is misinformed. Arguing that a player wanting to join other elite talent is morally unacceptable is conveniently overlooking all of the “super teams” that were placed together, a situation that doesn’t have any intrinsic superior value. Believing that wins can somehow mean less than others is a poor coping mechanism. Suggesting that he doesn’t have the right to improve his life and career because a team got to choose him years ago is hypocritical and borderline fascist.

Durant has a right to defend himself. He deserves to tell his own story. He should protect himself. Now that he’s the villain, he should completely embrace it. Just like LeBron James did before him.

He shouldn’t burn every bridge. That would be dumb. He doesn’t even need to name names. But he should address every accusation, projection, assumption, and complaint leveled against him.

Durant should continue to talk about how the allure of playing fun basketball brought him to Golden State. He should talk about how this was a decision based around improving his life, something that no person with any sense of humanity can fault him for. He should emphasize that this was his decision that he thought about, not a spur of the moment move that came about after someone intimidated him.

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The best thing Durant can do, however, is win. Once he shows that this was the right basketball move and the Warriors start to eat souls, then the critics will have nothing to say. They’ll cry, but the sound of jewelry and champagne drowns out tears. Winning beats whining, every single time. And the fans who called him a snake and a coward will sound like a broken record whose notes just bounce off the Larry O’Brien trophy in his arms and back into their faces.

But in the meantime, Durant should speak his mind. He doesn’t need to hold back anymore. He’s already the villain in the spotlight. Might as well give the people a show.