Kevin Durant on Friday said a comment from ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith indicating Los Angeles was the player’s “primary objective” if he didn’t re-sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder wasn’t true. Durant didn’t mince any words.
"“I don’t talk to Stephen A. Smith at all,” Durant told reporters. “Nobody in my family, my friends — they don’t talk to Stephen A Smith. So he’s lying.” … “If you ask me a question, I’ll talk about them,” Durant said. “But like I said before, I have people who I talk to about everything, and I know for a fact they didn’t talk to him, so he’s making up stories.”"
Smith didn’t take kindly to being called a liar and responded on Twitter, clarifying his original comments and taking Durant to task for what he categorizes as a false accusation.
"His assertion that I was lying is not only FALSE, but totally uncalled for. Especially from a player who receives nothing but praise not only from me, but from practically every media member you can find. Yet, for some reason, we’re all the same folks who don’t know *&%$ about the game of basketball. Whose thoughts he could give a &^%$ about. Essentially, individuals he wishes he’d never have to talk to…..that he’s being forced to tolerate…..as if someone has done something to him…..OF ALL PEOPLE!"
Not content to stop there, the First Take co-host went full professional wrestling heel on this morning’s episode with a long monologue that culminated in a threat toward Durant’s camp:
"“I said if OKC, if Kevin Durant decides to leave OKC, I’m hearing that L.A. is a prime spot that he is considering. Not to say he’s not considering D.C., Miami, New York or whatever … that’s what I heard. I’m not lying. If I were wrong Kevin Durant would have signed his extension with OKC. Okay? You being represented by Roc Nation, I know these boys. They’re not small-timers. They don’t want Kevin Durant just because of his name, they want him because this brother’s going to do big things and they’re going to see to it that he’s going to do big things. Are you trying to tell me these large markets are not a consideration? I said nothing offensive about him. I will not say anything offensive about him. I still stand here today telling you: he’s a good dude, but he’s wrong. And the guys that put it up to him — put him up to it — in their own way — I’m not talking about literally his comments but in their own way with their chirping behind my back all the time, they’re wrong too. And the sensitivity that these guys are showing, they are making unnecessary enemies. I am not one of them. I won’t be. I’ve got too much love and respect for who these guys are and what they mean to my community. But I will say this lastly: you don’t want to make an enemy out of me. And I’m looking right into the camera and I’m going to say it again. You do not want to make an enemy out of me. I’m not having it. I’ve done nothing wrong and I’m not going to tolerate it.“"
Say what you want about the decision to escalate the war of words with one of the NBA’s biggest names in tough-guy fashion, but you can’t say it’s not entertaining.
Smith launched similar threatening language at Michael Carter-Williams last year after the then-Philadelphia 76ers guard took a jab at him in a piece for The Players Tribune.
It’s tough to fully embrace debate without ending up with your arms around some high-profile beef as well.