Tahlequah Daily Press

Thunder/NBA

May 2, 2014

Headline adds drama to Thunder series

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — On the eve of the biggest game of his career, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant woke up Thursday morning to a find his name at the center of a brewing controversy that he had nothing to do with.

A local media outlet used the headline “Mr. Unreliable” to describe Durant. The claim soon caught fire on social media and the national airwaves.

With his team trailing 3-2 in the series, Durant was forced to answer questions about the headline after the morning practice. However, he didn’t rise to the bait and tried to stay focused on the game at hand.

“It’s all good,” Durant said. “I don’t really care. Coming from my paper back at home, that’s what they’re supposed to write. I didn’t come through for the team. So they got to write that type of stuff. As a player and as a competitor, it’s going to be good and bad days. People are going to build you up. They’re going to break you down. They don’t allow you to stay even keel, and I think that’s what I am. My teammates love me. My family loves me. That’s all that really matters to me. It is what it is. We got another opportunity tonight.”

Thunder teammate Russell Westbrook was not as diplomatic after hearing about the mini- controversy.

“That’s BS in my eyes,” Westbrook said. “The guy’s been great since he’s been in the league. He’s gotten better every season. One week ago you guys called him MVP. Now the next week you call him unreliable. So that don’t make sense to me. That don’t make any sense. That’s bogus, man. That don’t make no sense. That really don’t.”

With the Thunder on the brink of elimination at the time, it wasn’t the type of news coach Scott Brooks wanted to deal with. But he said it comes with the territory of being a professional athlete.

“That’s what you have to do as a professional athletes, as a professional team,” Brooks said. “You focus on the things that you can control. You can’t focus on what people say, and write and headlines. We focus on what we can control and we’ve done a great job of that throughout the years. Kevin is as consistent and as focused as I have ever been around him.”

Thunder general manager Sam Presti’s response may have been overblown, but he got his point across.

“What I witnessed from Kevin Durant on the streets of Moore, Oklahoma, a year ago is the absolute definition of reliability,” Presti stated.

Durant admits in his younger days, such critiques would have bothered him. But after six years in the NBA, he now says he knows what to focus on.

“Headlines, what guys write, I used to care about that stuff when I was a younger player in this league,” Durant said. “But now it doesn’t matter because I know what I do. I know the work I put in. And those people that’s writing those things don’t know how hard it is to do what we do. And I don’t know how hard it is to do what they do, as well. So I can’t really judge. It is what it is. I’m just going to play as hard as I can when I step on that court for my team and leave everything out there.”

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