OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Kevin Durant is apologizing to referee James Williams for behaving like a “jerk,” using an expletive to describe how he acted during a victory against the Knicks on Tuesday night when the NBA Finals MVP was ejected late for a second technical.
While Durant had yet to hear from the NBA on Wednesday, he said he is prepared for whatever fine he receives. He also plans to say sorry in person the next time he sees Williams and vowed to handle himself more respectfully next time.
“I wish I had handled that better obviously but it was kind of a heat-of-the-moment for me. I could be better. It was a great learning experience for me though,” Durant said after practice. “… I wasn’t getting picked on last night. I was being a diva last night. I’ve got to just own up to it. I watched it when I got home. I was wondering why he was coming at me so hard but then I watched the plays I was like, `Yeah, I looked like a jerk out there.’ It was bad. Luckily we won and we can move past it and I kind of owned up to it. I’ll be better next time.”
Durant had 14 points, a career-high 14 assists and two blocks before his ejection with 2:50 left in the 123-112 win, then criticized Williams publicly afterward.
“Kevin knows he should not have said what he said after the game,” coach Steve Kerr said Wednesday. “But this has been such a big topic this year. It does seem like maybe there’s a little bit more relationship stuff than there used to be. I don’t know why, I don’t know why that is. I know the best officials to me are the ones who will talk to me and I also know they deserve my respect. And I’ve snapped a couple times this year and said some things that I shouldn’t have. So it’s a matter of trying to maintain composure and dignity and you still have to be able to complain about a call and the ref needs to be able to accept that he’s wrong sometimes.”
Durant said he initially became upset with Williams for a carry call in the first half on a left-to-right crossover move Durant has put so much time into perfecting that “it irritated me.”
“I can’t react like that,” Durant said. “I wish I could apologize to James because that was definitely out of my character.”
Durant said once he watched the plays that earned him the technicals, he saw he behaved inappropriately.
He also believes the tension between players and officials will simmer down once everybody has a better grasp on this season’s rules changes.