What does Kevin Durant actually want? It’s an important question with no clear answer as Durant—arguably the greatest pure scorer to ever walk this earth—continues to cloud his legacy, piling up inexplicable decisions one after another. Durant had the best situation of his career in Golden State, only to blow it all up. This summer he set out to do precisely the same thing, only to change his mind once it became evident the Nets weren’t going to trade him for anything less than a king’s ransom.
No matter how successful he is or how much control he has over a team or situation (Durant’s months-long saga was a content goldmine, birthing an endless well of Twitter speculation, galaxy-brained conspiracy theories and viral rants), Durant never seems satisfied, carrying around a boulder-sized chip on his shoulder. Some would call Durant’s moody defiance the next evolution of “player empowerment,” but others, including outspoken TNT analyst Charles Barkley, are tired of the angst, wondering aloud how a young, impossibly rich and universally admired athlete could be so miserable.
“[Durant] gets mad when we say it—he piggybacked on the Warriors to win his first two championships. If you go back and look at his career, as the best player and being a leader, he’s been an abject failure,” said Barkley in a recent interview with Arizona Sports 98.7. “Every time he’s been the guy who has to be the leader and the best player, he has not had success.”
Barkley has long been Durant’s harshest critic, dismissing him as a “bus rider” for his tepid performance in the Nets’ first-round series with Boston, bowing out to the second-seeded Celtics in four games. Durant, who, it seems, is physically incapable of letting anything go, clapped back with a predictably scathing response, insulting Barkley’s age and lack of titles. He also suggested Barkley and others of his generation are bitter they didn’t make more money, seeing only a fraction of what current players earn.
“He just seems like a miserable person. I call him Mr. Miserable,” said Barkley, who, following a brief flirtation with LIV Golf, will return to TNT for his 22nd season this fall. “He’s never going to be happy. Everybody giving him everything on a silver platter. He was the man in Oklahoma City, they loved him, he owned the entire state. Then he bolts on them and goes to the Warriors, he wins back-to-back championships and he’s still not happy. Then he goes to Brooklyn, they give him everything he wants, and he’s still miserable.”
Durant, following a meeting earlier this week with Nets owner Joe Tsai, coach Steve Nash and GM Sean Marks, rescinded his trade request, agreeing to honor the four years left on his current contract. Still, it feels like only a matter of time until Durant’s next tantrum, threatening, just as he did all summer, to sabotage everything the Nets have built.