D.A.: Durant's Legacy Is Outside Of His Grasp Because He Allows It

Kevin Durant defends himself against "anyone with a keyboard," which only makes him an easier target for ridicule, D.A. says

Damon Amendolara
May 29, 2019 - 3:15 pm

History is just past the outstretched fingertips of Kevin Durant, try as he might to touch it. Since the day he decided to join the Warriors, and perhaps even before that, he has battled the current on his legacy. There is almost no way that inner turmoil won't continue into these NBA Finals and beyond. As Golden State prepares for its run at a third-straight championship, there are even more questions surrounding where to place KD. Much like the ocean surrounding the Bay Area, the more he tries to grab water, the more it pours through his hands. 

KD is a rare commodity, an elite athlete that openly cares far too much about the fans’ opinions. Iconic superstars usually act above the fray, looking down their noses at the ketchup-stained masses populating their social media feeds. Instead Durant has burned buckets of energy defending his reputation against anyone with a keyboard, defiant in the face of all criticism. He often berates and scolds teenagers or young fans on Twitter and Instagram, sometimes even with burner accounts, and also finger wags at media. Durant hears everything, and even though he has admitted it's a flaw cannot stop engaging with the trolls. 

The problem is there is no happy ending for KD no matter how hard he tries to defend his legacy. The more he insists how great he is, how noble his cause is, the more fuel he delivers the firestarters. For the naysayers who say he can't carry a championship team on his own, that he chased rings by piggybacking on a modern dynasty, every angry response is a gasoline tanker to the bonfire. Michael Jordan never had to tell us how sensational he was, or reminded us when he passed Russell and Wilt and Kareem as the greatest player ever. LeBron James wants affection, but won't stoop to social media barbs with fans. Imagine Tom Brady fighting with people on Facebook about his accomplishments vs. Joe Montana? Or Mike Trout insisting he was already better than Mickey Mantle? We'd be horrified they'd crawl through the mud like that. 

This all makes KD an even easier target, which is unfortunate because he's successful enough to warrant inclusion into the pantheon of greats. He's one of the most lethal scorers the game has ever seen, and he has risen above his wildly talented Warriors teammates for back-to-back Finals MVP awards. But after yet another season of sniping with critics, teammates (Draymond Green) and embittered responses to his impending free agency, he's caught in no-man's land. The Warriors have yet to lose a game without him, devastating the Rockets, smashing the Blazers to bits. Portland led by nearly 20 points in the final three games of the series. Golden State came back to win all with a ballet of off-ball movement, dizzying passes, and head-spinning marksmanship. They did not miss KD on the floor, no matter what platitudes that said post-game. 

If he returns from his injury and the Warriors win a title, it will seem irrelevant since they played so brilliantly without him. If he remains sidelined and they clinch a championship, it will reaffirm he was never necessary to their success. If he comes back and... (gasp)... they lose to the Raptors, we will have ammo to believe he actually made the Warriors worse. His only advantageous scenario is if he stays injured and the Warriors lose, but that feels about as likely as Kawhi Leonard entering the arena in a sombrero on a unicycle.  

Durant's best tact is simply to ignore where people place him in history, then leave in the offseason for a competitive team. He is far too sensitive, and if he could ever disengage it would help mightily. Acting confident in who he is and where he stands will only enhance his reputation. There is no good in chasing the rabbit down the hole. Convincing one 16-year-old you're an all-time great on Twitter only leads to another tidal wave of ridicule and mockery. The math isn't worth it. He shouldn't stay in the Bay Area either. No matter how many titles he wins with the Warriors, it'll never matter. Steph Curry will always have one more, and Steph will forever be considered the heartbeat of the franchise. KD shouldn't join the Knicks, because he'll inevitably get tired of the dysfunction within the franchise. He'll have to force his way out again, and that will lead to an entirely new cascade of taunts that he "couldn't handle the pressure" and "isn't a real leader." He needs to find stability and a winner, then let his greatness speak without the insecurity. This should be the greatest time of his life – a chance at a three-peat and then freedom to choose any destination. Too bad Durant's sensitivity has turned into a boiling cauldron that only gets hotter by the day.  

Damon Amendolara, known by his fans as D.A., hosts “The D.A. Show,” from 9:00AM-12:00PM, ET, across the country on the nation’s largest 24/7 major-market radio network. “The D.A. Show” is known for its unique perspective on sports, tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, colorful listener interaction, and candid interviews with athletes and coaches. Amendolara also appears regularly on NFL Network as part of the “NFL Top 10” documentary film series, CBS television and SNY TV. He is a Syracuse University grad and native of Warwick, N.Y.