It turns out 2013-14 NBA MVP Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder won’t be watching this year’s NBA playoffs on television.
When NewsOK.com’s Anthony Slater asked Durant during his exit interview on April 16 if he will tune in to the 2015 postseason, the Thunder forward was succinct.
“Hell, no,” he told Slater on April 16.
And with good reason. Durant, who suited up in just 27 games for Oklahoma City this season due to a nagging right foot injury, finds himself in the same company as fellow superstars Carmelo Anthony and Paul George.
All three had to suffer through various injuries during the 2014-15 NBA season. They missed a combined 173 regular season games, per ESPN.
What’s more is their teams, the Oklahoma City Thunder, New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers missed the playoffs.
Their prolonged absence is one of the main reasons why there’s a huge paradigm shift among the top scorers in the league. You see James Harden, Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook dominate the highlight reels every night.
And yes, there’s always four-time NBA MVP LeBron James.
But hardly any Kevin Durant? It certainly made Westbrook’s job a lot tougher, as he had to carry a majority of the offensive load for the Thunder. He averaged a career-best 28.1 points per game.
As for Durant, an injured right foot and Oklahoma City’s failure to make it to the playoffs gives him every reason not to watch any more basketball games.
You can be sure Durant, a Washington, D.C. native, would rather cheer his Washington Capitals in the NHL playoffs or Washington Nationals in the MLB regular season.
KD’s Exit Interview On April 16
Slater begins his April 16 NewsOK.com update by saying Kevin Durant’s bone graft surgery last month ruled him out for the remainder of the 2014-15 NBA season.
He had to wear a cast and use a motorized wheelchair as a result, per Slater.
As the season wound down, Oklahoma City finished with a respectable 45-37 win-loss record without their franchise player, but lost out to the surging New Orleans Pelicans for the West’s eight playoff spot due to the latter owning the tie-breaker.
Durant did not hide his emotions when asked how he felt about the Thunder’s elimination.
“I’m definitely pissed,” he told Slater. “I’ve heard a lot of stuff over this time I’ve been injured from everybody, from different people. So I can’t wait for the first game (of next season).”
Durant gave props to Westbrook on a spectacular season, but told Slater on Thursday it was also “tough to watch” his point guard destroy the opposition every night while both of them had to endure criticism as the season wore on:
I couldn’t really enjoy it as much because when I watch TV I hear all this you comparing two teammates together all the time.
It’s kinda tough to watch it sometimes. Then I hear everything about if Russ is playing well, I’m getting traded and all this other stupid stuff.
Durant then delivers the line of the morning when asked if he’ll tune in to the postseason.
“Hell, no,” he tells Slater.
To close things off, Durant told NewsOK.com on April 16 he uses unwarranted criticism to stoke the fire inside of him:
It’s kind of like a balance that I use. I use it for fuel sometimes because I know most of it’s bull—- and I know most of the people don’t really know the game like I know it…
(But) like I said, it’s a balance I have to have in between getting too mad and just letting that distract me and take that away from how I play and using that as fire as well. So I’ve heard it all. And I cant’ wait to play again.
It’s a sure bet KD’s fans can’t wait to see him take the court again.
The Final Say
Durant has every right to get pissed if the criticisms are unfair and unwarranted.
For example, an Oklahoma City radio personality took shots at the Thunder defense on Twitter following their 138-113 win over the hapless Minnesota Timberwolves on April 15.
“Don’t act like we had our whole team all year,” Durant shot back on Twitter (via NewsOK.com). “If we did we wouldn’t even be talkin’ like this.”
If some member of the media criticizes Durant and his teammates when they’re down, they have every right to get upset.
But what if the criticism happens to be constructive? Durant would be wise to give it some thought.
Thing is, he’s human just like everybody else.
And what’s the biggest takeaway from Thursday’s end-of-season interview? It’s simply this: Durant has reached his boiling point.
During the 55 games he missed in 2014-15, he not only had to sit on the bench with an injured foot, he also had to take in what the naysayers were saying on TV, social media and what not.
His anger built up, bubbled to the surface and eventually exploded on Thursday.
When the 2015-16 NBA season rolls around, his anger will surely fade because he will be back with a vengeance. The Thunder, who missed the playoffs for just the first time in six seasons, will be back with a vengeance.
Last time we checked, only Nick Collison, Sebastian Telfair and Kyle Singler have expiring deals for the Thunder.
OKC’s core will remain largely intact, and with Durant in tow, it will no longer be just the Russell Westbrook show. It’ll be them with Enes Kanter, Serge Ibaka, Dion Waiters, Andre Roberson, and everybody else.
Look for the Thunder to give the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs and the other powerhouses in the West stiff competition in 2015-16.
Is the Thunder’s bounce-back season something these other teams are looking forward to?