The war between Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant and the NBA media continued this week in a series of tweets stemming from, of course, something Stephen A. Smith said on ESPN's "First Take."
Durant took offense when Smith said Michael Jordan changed the game of basketball for the worse because of how he "individualization the sport." Smith argued the NBA focused more on players rather than teams after Jordan's ascension which negatively changed the dynamic of the game.
"Michael Jordan is responsible as much as anybody for changing the game for worse," Smith said. "He was so phenominal that the NBA marketed the individual, the audience gravitated towards the individual and the game became a bit more individualized. ... What I'm saying is you were thinking 'team' until Jordan elevated it to another level. And from Jordan then you had the Kobes and the Vince Carters and others that came along thereafter and the individualization of the sport – particularly because of the money that came with it – became more of a focal point.
Durant refuted that idea and instead suggested in a tweet on Thursday that media personalities like Smith, Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe actually changed the game for the worse. Not the players.
My theory is that guys like steve, skip and Shannon have changed the game for the worse. Playas like Stephen and Michael can only push the game forward. https://t.co/0Oc9J2HqxS
— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) June 2, 2022
That ignited a series of reply tweets from other fans and journalists. The first being, of course, Smith himself. The ESPN analyst played the "we are legion" card by claiming there are "thousands more" media personalities like himself who are "not going away."
…..news for you @KDTrey5. We ain’t going any damn place. For every @stephenasmith, Skip, @ShannonSharpe and others, there’s thousands more coming down the pike. We’re not going away. We multiply. Sorry!!!! https://t.co/YvPHNVMOE6
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) June 2, 2022
Eddie Johnson, a color analyst for the Phoenix Suns, disagreed with Smith's argument but responded to Durant's tweet by calling today's athletes "too dam (sic) sensitive." To that Durant responded that media members are actually the ones who are too sensitive and "can't take what ya'll dish out."
Nah these media members are sensitive. As soon as an athlete disagrees with these outlandish hot takes y’all take it as a personal shot at your character lol it’s insane how y’all can’t take what y’all dish out. But it’s the athletes who lack mental toughness
— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) June 3, 2022
Durant versus the media
This isn't the first time Durant clashed with the media. His social media fights have been the stuff of legend online, and he's gone after just about everyone – fans and journalists alike.
He called out Shannon Sharpe of "Undisputed" in 2021 for talking about a fake quote and then posted a photo showing Sharpe blocked Durant on Twitter. He clapped back at Chris Broussard in 2019 for suggesting a Warriors title without him would be Durant's "worst nightmare." He even called C.J. McCollum a "snake in the grass" in 2018 after the then-Blazers guard called Durant's decision to play for the Warriors "soft" on his podcast. Back in 2015, Durant called NBA writer Chris Palmer a "dumba**."
Durant eventually publically spoke about his frustrations with how he was represented by the media during his tenure with the Golden State Warriors earlier this year with the Ringer. He said he felt isolated from the rest of the coverage of the team and subject of more scrutiny for his actions than his teammates.
“I just think I deserved a little bit more respect than that. I came out here and gave back money, sacrificed my name, and went out here and sacrificed my body every night to be the best that I can be. I just asked for a little bit more respect to wait until after the season than to badger me every day, all year with questions like that [about free agency]. I thought it was unfair to me and the whole group to even think about anything that was going to happen after the year. It was unprofessional, in my opinion.”
This certainly won't be the last of Durant's Twitter feuds, so long as people like Smith have his attention with their fiery takes.