On Saturday night, Kevin Durant
delivered one of the greatest NBA-playoff performances in recent
memory. With Kyrie Irving out due to an ankle sprain, James Harden
playing through a grade-two hamstring strain and Joe Harris
struggling to make shots, Durant put the Brooklyn Nets on his
He played 53 minutes and
finished with 48 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 threes, 1 steal
and 1 block, breaking the NBA record for the most points in a Game
7. During the final three games of the series, Durant played 142 of
149 minutes, averaging 43.0 points in that span (as noted by
Durant will turn 33 years old in
September, and this was his first postseason appearance since
tearing his Achilles in the 2019 NBA Finals, yet he looked as
dominant as ever.
He did everything he could to
lift his team -- even forcing overtime with an incredible
game-tying shot at the end of regulation -- but it wasn’t enough to
defeat the Milwaukee Bucks and advance to the Eastern Conference
Finals. Still, Durant deserves a ton of credit for a remarkable
Apparently, many people
On Sunday, I was surprised to
see a lot of social-media posts criticizing KD. There were tweets
about how he “choked.” People mocked him for running out of gas.
Some argued that Durant showed that he isn’t an all-time great.
Some pointed to the 2006-07 Cleveland Cavaliers team that LeBron
James led to the NBA Finals as proof that Durant should’ve been
able to take his squad deeper.
Basically, the narrative was
that “KD couldn’t even lead a super-team out of the second
Are these people trolling? Are
they just ignorant?
Durant rubbed a lot of people
the wrong way when he left the Oklahoma City Thunder for the loaded
Golden State Warriors. Ever since, it feels like he has a lot of
critics who are quick to bash him whenever possible. If you dislike
some of his business decisions since 2016, fine. But to allow that
preconceived notion to get in the way of actually analyzing his
on-court abilities and clutchness is ludicrous.
we just saw Durant
step up in a crucial Game 5 and record 49 points, 17 rebounds, 10
assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks (while shooting 69.6% from the field
and 44.4% from three). How do you argue that KD isn't clutch and
say he's not an all-time great after two insane games in four
Perhaps this is a byproduct of
today’s sports-media landscape. Some of the highest-paid and
most-visible “analysts” are constantly calling out players and
saying ridiculous things just to get a reaction. When hot takes and
antagonistic coverage are everywhere, of course some fans will follow suit and
respond this way.
Maybe social media is part of
the problem, too. People know that they'll get likes, retweets and
replies if they criticize someone as polarizing as Durant. Bashing
him after a big loss is a way to get guaranteed engagement from
fellow KD haters.
Regardless of the reasoning, it
blows my mind that anyone could watch last night’s Game 7 and come
away feeling like Durant was the problem and didn’t do enough. All
of this criticism and negativity following an amazing performance
represent everything that's wrong with sports discourse.