Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder are struggling in their series against Memphis — that much is undeniable. Nevertheless, hasn’t Durant earned the benefit of the doubt against attack-y covers from his hometown paper, The Oklahoman, which was accompanied by these thoughts from Berry Tramel?
[Tony] Allen is inside Durant’s head. Durant is dazed and confused. Hesitant and docile. The Memphis Doberman has turned Durant into mere mortal this Western Conference playoff series. The Thunder is on the brink of elimination, and if Durant doesn’t return to something approaching the Slim Reaper in Game 6 Thursday night, Grim Sleeper is going to be more like it.
I mean … Durant’s shooting 40% from the field in this series, and his body language has appeared a bit off at times, but he’s also averaging 47.8 minutes per game, which is insane. It’s hard to advocate a less-is-more approach when the team’s backs are up against the wall, and this is starting to feel like the beginning of one of those types of Is-Kevin-Durant-A-WINNER campaigns.
(Having a coach more adept at drawing up plays as opposed to running an offense based almost entirely on Durant and Russell Westbrook making things happen would probably be helpful in that regard.)
It’s becoming increasingly reasonable to wonder if a change-of-scenery for Durant is possible in two years.
Update: Oklahoman sports editor Mike Sherman has apologized for the headline:
We take great pride in our headlines about big sporting events and news in Oklahoma. Thursday’s headline in The Oklahoman on Kevin Durant’s performance in the Memphis series missed the mark. The words were overstated and unduly harsh. The headline and presentation left the impression that we were commenting on Durant’s season, career or even character. We were not. We were referring only to the Memphis series. The fact the headline and presentation left that impression with so many readers is proof that we failed.