It’s widely known that Kevin Durant is not a fan of the media. Last season at All-Star Weekend, he said that reporters “don’t know —-,” and the Deputy Publisher of the Players Tribune also ripped the widespread criticisms of Kobe Bryant‘s play this season. On Friday night, he took aim again, this time at the notion that the Thunder are not in the same class as the Warriors, Spurs and Cavaliers as far as title contenders go. Apparently, that’s the media’s fault, too.
“Man, the [media and experts are] always trying to nitpick us,” Kevin Duranttold ESPN.com. “I mean, they don’t like us. They don’t like how Russell [Westbrook] talks to the media, they don’t like how I talk to the media. So obviously, yeah, they’re not going to give us the benefit of the doubt.
“Especially since we’ve been together so long. Some of these teams are new, except for the Spurs, who have won. But we haven’t won and we’ve still got the same core, so they don’t expect us to win. It is what it is, who cares about them. They don’t mean nothing, the critics. Their opinions, everybody has one, but we don’t really care about them. Every day we’re just going to keep grinding this thing out. We feel like we can compete with anybody.”
It’s fine for Durant to feel like his team can compete with anybody. He’s probably right about that. But his comments here are off-base. There’s a reason that those three teams are currently held in higher esteem than the Thunder, and it isn’t because he and Westbrook aren’t nice to reporters (which is an absurd claim to make, considering the Spurs’ well-known aversion to any kind of press).
San Antonio’s point differential is currently +13.9. The all-time record for highest point differential in a season is +12.3, a mark set by the 1972 Lakers. The Warriors are currently 37-3 and on pace to break the record for most wins in a season set by the 1996 Bulls. The Cavaliers have LeBron James and play in the Eastern Conference, meaning they won’t have to play any teams on their level until the Finals.
The Thunder are a very good team that could very easily make the Finals or even win the title. It’s not hard to imagine a world where that happens. They have two of the five best players in the league, and every year that Durant and Westbrook have both been healthy since 2011, the Thunder have advanced to either the Western Conference Finals or the Finals. In most years, this Thunder team would be a heavy favorite in that conversation. It’s just that these Spurs and Warriors teams are historically great, and the Thunder aren’t quite on their level. It’s not a grand conspiracy against the Thunder by the big bad media.