The story, written by J.R. Moehringer for the Wall Street Journal Magazine that had the sports world buzzing Tuesday and Wednesday, was titled “Kevin Durant’s New Headspace.”
He could have called it “Go figure,” and no, that’s not a judgment on Durant, only an observation.
Durant’s entitled to play basketball wherever he chooses, for whatever reason he chooses, for as much money as anybody’s willing to pay him, even if they’ll only be paying him to be ready for the 2020-21 season throughout this coming season thanks to his ruptured Achilles.
He’s also entitled to be furious with Oklahoma City, the Thunder and its fans, because he's entitled to his feelings.
Just as he’s entitled, as a Golden State Warrior, to feel as Steve Perry once said he always felt as Journey’s frontman: an outsider, the new guy, an interloper even though he led the band.
Just as he’s entitled to spend hours and hours a day on social media, interacting with a facsimile of the world rather than the actual one, engaging with strangers he’ll never meet.
He gets to do whatever he wants or, perhaps, more accurately, whatever he’s compelled.
Beyond that, it’s hard to have any takeaway from Durant’s soul-bearing other than … bewilderment, because the man is everywhere and nowhere at the same time, seemingly all the time.
When it comes to his caustic comments about OKC — here’s a sample: “Such a venomous toxic feeling when I walked into that arena. And just the organization, the trainers and equipment managers, those dudes is pissed off at me? Ain’t talking to me? I’m like, ‘Yo, this is where we going with this? Because I left a team and went to play with another team?" — completely missing that it was how he left, when he left and where he left for only days after Golden State eliminated OKC in the playoffs … is to invite pity more than scorn.
Durant just doesn’t get it.
Yet, the portrayal of him as ever-searching, willing to engage with absolute interest with anybody and everybody, even if social media is the vehicle, seeking communion, conversation, understanding … well, it’s kind of sweet and innocent and thoughtful.
Strange, perhaps, but positive.
And, when Moehringer quoted Durant saying … “We talk about mental health a lot. We only talk about it when it comes to players. We need to talk about it when it comes to executives, media, fans” … he may have a fine point.
Still, even if we’re ready to take him at his word when Moehringer writes, “Durant wants people to know he’s happy,” but “please, for the love of God, stop asking if he’s happy,” it remains stupendously difficult to see Durant as a man at peace.
Something else from the tale underlines such restlessness.
As to why Durant chose to join the Brooklyn Nets, it’s almost like the story addressed it just to get it over with.
“Brooklyn was the right fit; he just knew,” Moehringer wrote. “He didn’t even speak to the Nets before his decision … He didn’t need a power point.”
Also, Durant had enjoyed playing in front of the Brooklyn fans in the past and, though the story makes no mention of Durant and Kyrie Irving working out a dual move to Brooklyn, Durant still referred to Irving as his best friend in the league.
So, yeah, maybe he just knew. Or maybe he chose the Nets on a whim. Kind of sounds like it.
Geez, maybe if he’d known Paul George wanted out of OKC, and Russell Westbrook be traded as a result, perhaps he even have would wanted to come back.
For crying out loud, after saying he’d never again be “attached” to OKC, Durant admitted that after leaving for Golden State, he still hoped “to come back to that city and be a part of that community and organization.”
My goodness, is he angry at the Thunder and their city or heartbroken over the divorce, even though he intimated it?
Typically, after an athlete goes on as Durant went on in Moehringer’s profile, the response is easier, more clear, sides can be taken.
Yet, with Durant, it’s not remotely easy because because it’s not even clear which side he’s on.
He’s a wonderful player.
He appears to be working very hard to come back stronger than ever from a horrible injury.
You want to root for him.
He makes it so hard.
Maybe we’ll never know Kevin Durant very well. Or maybe we will.
Perhaps someday, bewilderment will become understanding.