At the core of credible journalism is the delicate dance between reporter and source, reporter and subject. It’s always been this way and it will always stay that way. A level of mutual respect and cooperation needs to exist before a dependable story can be written or told.
Of course, there are exceptions. Have you read The National Enquirer lately: “Botox Blamed For Gladys Knight’s Plastic Look At 74.”
Like everything else in life, there are times when the circuit breaks and things turn into a mountain of mush. This happens often in sports. Some athletes grow tired and suspicious of the media and refuse to play our game. They either stop talking entirely or respond to questions with anger and sarcasm.
Here are a few examples: Major Leaguers Eddie Murray, Barry Bonds and Brandon Phillips, NBA star Russell Westbrook and NFL running back Marshawn Lynch have refused to talk or spit out answers to reporters covering their teams.
There is no greater current example of how corrosive the relationship between a player and the press can get then what’s melting down with Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors and the NBA media that trails him.
Durant has been on a media boycott for over a week, tired and angry about the way his impending free agency has been covered. But on Wednesday, after the Dubs’ 39-point win over San Antonio in Oakland, Durant spoke for about four minutes and the result was cringe worthy.
There has been speculation that Durant, one of the best players in the league, has narrowed his sites on signing with either the Los Angeles Lakers or New York Knicks. And this has blown his mind.
He was asked about the Knicks, who traded Kristaps Porzingis to Dallas last week, in part to improve cash flow for the free agent Class of 2019.
“I have nothing to do with the Knicks,” Durant said. “I don’t know who traded Porzingis. They got nothing to do with me. I’m trying to play basketball. Y’all come in here every day, ask me about free agency, ask my teammates, my coaches. You rile up the fans about it. Let us play basketball. That’s all I’m saying. And now when I don’t wanna talk to y’all, it’s a problem with me.
“Come on, man. Grow up. Grow up. Yeah, you – grow up. Come on, bro. I come here and go to work every day. I don’t cause no problems. I play the right way, or I try to play the right way. I try to be the best player I can be every possession. What’s the problem? What am I doing to y’all?”
Although there was a lot of media at the press conference, most of Durant’s scorn centered on The Athletic’s Ethan Strauss who asserts people in the league are convinced Durant his sights on the Knicks.
We know Durant is pissed with Strauss because he basically called him out during his rant.
“It’s unnecessary,” Durant said. “You got a dude, Ethan Strauss, who comes in here and just gives his whole opinion on stuff and makes it seem like it’s coming from me. And he just walks around here, don’t talk to nobody, just walk in here and survey and write something like that, and now you gotta pile on me because I don’t wanna talk to y’all about that.”
When asked to explain why he appeared so angry, Durant got right to the point.
“I just don’t trust none of y’all,” Durant said. “Every time I say something it’s getting twisted up and thrown out and in so many different publications, trying to tear me down with my words that I say. So when I don’t say nothing, it’s a problem. I just wanna play ball. I wanna go to the gym and go home. That’s all. Is that a problem? All right then.”
Unfortunately for Durant, he’s going to have to get used to it. The team that lands him, particularly if he signs in tandem with one or to other stars, is immediately going to up its sex appeal. Durant is that good, his presence will be that impactful.
As the trade deadline approached Thursday, the future of Durant has been tied into speculation about what other teams might do, or have done, to prepare for his decision. But while his teammates and coach Steve Kerr have patiently analyzed the situation, Durant has repelled.
The growing tension around Durant was also blamed for the verbal altercation he had with Warriors teammate Draymond Green in November. Durant and Green were roasted in the media after that and apparently the antagonism has lingered.
“Why do I gotta talk to you?” Durant said. “Tell me. Is that gonna help me do my job better? Nah. I didn’t feel like talking.”
After the game, the Warriors media-friendly superstar Stephen Curry was asked what he thinks is going on with Durant.
“Honestly, I think it’s more him not being able to control his own voice in terms of, obviously he’s talked about it from time to time throughout the year, he’s focusing on basketball,” Curry said. “And that’s what he should do. We want to see that K every day. So what he can’t control is B.S. that happens in the media or people making a decision for him or all this other stuff. ”