I've included a bunch of excerpts I found interesting. Long article -- hopefully I'm not sharing too much. Mods, please cut down if needed.
“Some days I hate the circus of the NBA,” he says. “Some days I hate that the players let the NBA business, the fame that comes with the business, alter their minds about the game. Sometimes I don’t like being around the executives and politics that come with it. I hate that.”
Producer Brian Grazer, a creative partner, says Durant is one of the most original, idiosyncratic minds you’re likely to meet in the world of sports. Grazer recalls a talk Durant gave at a Google retreat in Sicily. During the Q&A someone asked what made Durant so great. Coolly, Durant replied: “Paranoia.”
But all this is guesswork, and Durant hates the way people are forever guessing about his psyche, which is another reason he hates the NBA. So here’s another guess: Maybe he’s not changed, or not merely changed—maybe he’s also dead tired. He sounds tired, looks tired, with good reason. His 12-year NBA career has featured outsize doses of drama, scandal, injuries, gutting losses, fierce beefs, dramatic exits, emotional returns, burner accounts. Even his most devoted fans (Mom and Dad) say the ruptured Achilles and the yearlong layoff it will likely require might be a blessing.
In every sense of the word, the man needs to heal.
Durant says his decision-making process was as simple on the inside as it looked from the outside. Brooklyn was the right fit; he just knew. He didn’t even speak to the Nets before his decision, he says. He didn’t need a PowerPoint. He’s always felt big love as a visiting player at Barclays Center, he says, and he wondered what it might be like if he were on the home team. Plus, the Nets offered the opportunity to join his “best friend in the league,” Kyrie Irving.
Of course, Durant says, he was conflicted about leaving the Bay Area. “I came in there wanting to be part of a group, wanting to be part of a family, and definitely felt accepted,” he says. “But I’ll never be one of those guys. I didn’t get drafted there.… Steph Curry, obviously drafted there. Andre Iguodala, won the first Finals, first championship. Klay Thompson, drafted there. Draymond Green, drafted there. And the rest of the guys kind of rehabilitated their careers there. So me? ****, how you going to rehabilitate me? What you going to teach me? How can you alter anything in my basketball life? I got an MVP already. I got scoring titles.”
That he stood out, stood apart from the group, felt preordained.
But there was also this: From a strictly competitive, strategic standpoint, Durant had come to fear that Golden State had hit a ceiling.
“The motion offense we run in Golden State, it only works to a certain point,” he says. “We can totally rely on only our system for maybe the first two rounds. Then the next two rounds we’re going to have to mix in individual play. We’ve got to throw teams off, because they’re smarter in that round of playoffs. So now I had to dive into my bag, deep, to create stuff on my own, off the dribble, isos, pick-and-rolls, more so than let the offense create my points for me.” He wanted to go someplace where he’d be free to hone that sort of improvisational game throughout the regular season.
His tenure in the Bay Area was great, he says, but because of media speculation, fan anxiety, “it didn’t feel as great as it could have been.”
Durant has a Ph.D. in this phenomenon. When he left the Oklahoma City Thunder for Golden State, reaction was intense. Overnight he went from icon to traitor. The memory still pains him.
“People coming to my house and spray-painting on the for sale signs around my neighborhood,” he recalls. “People making videos in front of my house and burning my jerseys and calling me all types of crazy names.”
At his first game in Oklahoma City as a visitor—February 2017—fans yowled for blood and brandished cupcakes, because Durant was supposedly soft. “Such a venomous toxic feeling when I walked into that arena,” he says. “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?”
His mother recalls one particularly appalling piece of video: a Thunder fan firing bullets into a No. 35 jersey. Bullets—after she and Durant and half his extended family relocated to Oklahoma, after they embraced the community, after Durant gave a million dollars to tornado victims.
“I’ll never be attached to that city again because of that,” Durant says. “I eventually wanted to come back to that city and be part of that community and organization, but I don’t trust nobody there. That **** must have been fake, what they was doing. The organization, the GM, I ain’t talked to none of those people, even had a nice exchange with those people, since I left.”
Though fans in Toronto roared with pleasure and glee the moment he ruptured his Achilles, he doesn’t view that behavior in the same light. On the contrary, it tickled him. Torontonians knew he was playing the best basketball of his life. “They was terrified that I was on the floor,” he says, suppressing a smile. “You could feel it the second I walked out there.”
Does this same largesse extend to Toronto’s über booster, Drake, who trash-talked the Warriors and practically ran the floor on every fast break, thus irking half a continent? It does, it does. “That’s my brother. I view him as, like, blood.” If you get upset about how Drake roots for his hometown team, he adds, “You need to reevaluate yourself.”
Above all, Durant expresses himself through social media. Instagram is one of his main portals to the world. It’s an introvert’s utopia, he says, a place to engage with people from a safe distance. Never mind the grief it’s caused him in the past. (In recent years, at times using fake accounts, he’s clashed with online critics, including at least one who still had a curfew.) He checks his direct messages twice daily, and though they number in the hundreds, he methodically works his way through, chatting with all sorts of folks about all sorts of subjects. Recently he conducted a two-week-long dialogue with a total stranger, a young man who detailed his many struggles and mental woes, ad nauseam, all of which Durant found fascinating.
He’ll also talk shop with anyone. The other day a middle school student reached out. “She’s like, I started to play at the free throw line, but I’m not very comfortable there, so I don’t really know what to do when I get inside the zone. It was such a nice-ass question. She blew my mind.”
He often parachutes into young people’s comments, doles out praise, congratulates them on a great game, a big win, “just encouraging them, letting them know they’re nice, and keep going. That **** does a lot for me. That’s why I like the Gram. A lot of young grass-roots basketball players, I build relationships through Instagram, so when we see each other it’s love.”
Durant says he’s decided to wear No. 7 in Brooklyn because it stands for completion in the Bible. (God rested on the seventh day after creating Heaven and Earth.) Clearly the completion of his career is on his mind. In which case, what next?
Kids, he says, maybe.
He throws out numbers. Maybe five. Maybe one.
First he needs to find a woman who can handle this crazy life.
He used to think that wasn’t such a tall order. But, as with so many things, his thinking on that has evolved.
“I thought this life was pretty simple,” he says. “But it’s not as simple as I thought it was.”