Kevin Durant recently sat down with GQ for a big cover story, and it is a doozy.
KD reveals that he called off his engagement to WNBA player Monica Wright; he also shares insights on love, faith, his killer instinct, #KDISNOTNICE, last season’s fantastic MVP speech, the looming free agency and growing up in D.C.
The most interesting part of the feature are Durant’s thoughts on the still-controversial departure of James Harden from OKC; the 26-year old Thunder superstar concedes that it’s tough leading a far less talented squad without The Beard:
And lurking over it all, the question of where he’ll be after his contract runs out in 2016. Everyone jockeying for his attention, his devotion, his loyalty. Loyalty being a word Kevin Durant has had to become wise to. He heard the (Donald) Sterling tapes like everyone else. “When that came out, we was just like, ‘Oh, so that’s how they feel about us?’ All this rhetoric about team, about loyalty. And then guys like Sterling basically acting in private like their players are property. “When players do stuff that benefits them, they’re looked at as unloyal, selfish,” Durant says. “But when a team decides to go the other way and cut a player, or not bring him back or not re-sign him, it’s what’s best for the team, and that’s cool. But what we do is frowned upon, you know?”
Don’t forget, Kevin Durant was not selfish: He signed a full extension in 2010, no opt-outs. He remembers that, even if no one else does, even as he anticipates the lurking storm of recrimination that awaits him if he doesn’t re-up again. “I was loyal. If it comes down to that, I mean: I was. My deal’s up in 2016. I’ll have been here nine years. I could have easily wanted out. I could have easily not signed the extension after my rookie contract. I could have not played as hard every night. But people tend to forget.” Same thing happened to LeBron James, when he switched teams and they burned his jersey. Kevin watched it like, Damn. “This is not just a game for us. This is life. Like, we live and die and breathe by basketball. We’re away from our families to entertain other people.”
Were the Thunder being loyal to Durant and his teammates when they traded James Harden, two and a half years ago, breaking up the best young core in the league in order to save a few luxury-tax dollars? Has the team ever really given Durant what he needs to win? Durant has been asked this question so many times he may not realize that he’s begun answering it honestly. “Players are paid to do their jobs, no matter who’s on the court. And as superstars, you gotta lead what you have. You gotta make them better. Some players might be better than others. Some teams might be better than others. You gotta do your job, and you gotta trust that the front office is going to do their job. It’s hard, though. You know what I’m saying? Because it’s like, shit, I want win. Obviously our players aren’t as good as, you know, than they were before. But you have to figure it out.”