Golden State Warriors: Kevin Durant has every right to clap back

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 12: Kevin Durant
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 12: Kevin Durant /

Golden State Warriors’ superstar Kevin Durant is responding to all of the critics once again, this time via his new Nike KD 10 “Finals” shoe.

Few events, if any, in NBA history have ever caused the pandemonium that Kevin Durant’s Summer 2016 decision to join the Golden State Warriors did. When the news broke that he would be leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Bay Area, he instantly became public enemy no. 1. Durant was a villain.

For some, it was the very idea of him exercising his right as a free agent. Others tried to justify their anger, arguing that their issue with his move was the fact that he went to the Warriors. It made a lot of people upset.

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Those angered folks lashed out and attacked Durant. They expressed their pain that, either their favorite team lost Durant or their favorite team would eventually lose to him, through insults. Many, from the media to the fans, attacked his character and integrity as a basketball player and a man.

The talking points and insults were all the same. They called him a cupcake, snake, and a choker. They called him a coward for joining the team that he blew a 3-1 lead against. He was soft. The list goes on and on.

Durant dominated LeBron James in the NBA Finals, something that the masses argued couldn’t be done. They said that James owned Durant, but the Finals told a different story. The Warriors did not have much trouble dismissing the Cleveland Cavaliers in five guys outside of the hard-fought Game 3. You know, the game where Durant splashed a go-ahead, game-winning three-pointer over James on his own floor after the Cavs had a big lead late in the fourth quarter.

Since securing his first title and Finals MVP, Durant has gone on the attack. He’s making fun of and snapping back at everyone that hated on him or doubted him. He’s done it on every platform with every chance he’s gotten this summer.

His first Nike commercial immediately after the title-clinching win made reference to the “cupcake” insult and the general chatter of the basketball world. At JaVale McGee’s celebrity softball game, he wore a custom hat that showed a cupcake with a ring on it. That was, in my opinion, the best move.

He’s also used the Internet as a tool. Durant has been tweeting all offseason, responding to trolls. Additionally, Durant has used YouTube has an outlet.

Now, he’s taken it to his feet. Nike announced the release of a “Red Velvet” shoe that was obviously in reference to the nickname that fans gave to him after Russell Westbrook’s Fourth of July post. His latest one is a direct counterpunch.

His new shoe, the KD 10 “Finals,” is one of the most beautiful shoes today. The color scheme is based on Golden State’s blue and yellow. The insoles are the piece de resistance. They feature every name or projection that was sent in Durant’s direction from “blew a 3-1 lead” to “they don’t need you.”

Those words are in the background. On top of them, in yellow, features the Warriors’ 16-1 record in the playoffs, “2017 Champs,” his stat lines from the five games in the Finals, and “Finals Most Valuable Player.”

Many–especially from the Oklahoma City area–on the Internet said this shoe was a sign of weakness for the superstar. They argued that his continued references to the things that were said about him prove that he’s not over it. According to their logic, it displays that he realizes that his move to Golden State was cowardly and he’s trying to find peace with it.

That makes no sense. Durant made his decision, thanked the city and organization, and left. He wasn’t doing extra from the start.

Durant didn’t tell the fans to burn his jersey. He didn’t post passive aggressive pictures on Instagram. He didn’t attack the character of any media member.

Durant didn’t tell Enes Kanter to act like a child. He didn’t turn around and call everyone from OKC a snake or a cupcake. He didn’t do all of that for over a year.

So, concluding that Durant is the one with his feelings hurt doesn’t make a lot of sense. The evidence points to the opposite. Thunder fans were, understandably, hurt and blindsided by the decision and they still haven’t found a way to let it go.

Every NBA player finds motivation through doubters. They want to prove their critics wrong. It’s what makes Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant so special in the grand scheme of the NBA. They were competitors that heard chatter, turned it into a great performance, and then threw it back in those haters’ faces.

So why is Durant any different? Why are people acting like what he’s doing with the shoes and the hat is anything different? Why is what people love so much about Jordan and Bryant’s competitive nature the thing they’re labeling a weakness for Durant?

Next: Six Myths about the Warriors that need to end

Yes, Kevin Durant cares what people say about him. That’s not an unfair assessment. He’s said it himself.

But to suggest that he’s still reeling from a decision that has provided the success he was looking for seems unreasonable. And to suggest that he doesn’t have a right to do that doesn’t understsand that players are human. They have every right to counterattack if they want to.