On loyalty. On his former team. On speaking his mind.
After spending eight seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder following the franchise’s move from Seattle, Durant was viewed as a traitor by some when he decided to join the champion Warriors as a free agent prior to the 2016-17 season.
Durant, who was Finals MVP as the Warriors won their second title in three seasons, doesn’t see it that way.
“Ain’t no such thing [as loyalty],” Durant said in an interview with Bleacher Report. “You see disloyalty in different ways, but that’s one of the most underrated parts of the game. We scream loyalty, but we don’t expect it from the people writing the checks because they’re writing the checks.
“[People say] ‘You should be fine with it because you’re getting paid.’ I liked it better when I was naive about the NBA business, how f—ed up it is. That was better for me that way. … You put money and business into something that’s pure, it’s going to f— it up.”
After he left, Durant seemed to have an icy relationship with those he left behind, including former teammate Russell Westbrook. He says he has come around, and that “me and my family didn’t erase those eight years in OKC.”
To him, it’s still a part of his fabric.
“I am OKC. I’m still OKC,” Durant told Bleacher Report. “That blue is going to be in my blood forever. That place raised me. I have people there who would take a bullet for me and vice versa. But there’s a point in a young man’s life, just like when he goes off to college, or when he moves to another city, to get a job, he’s got to make a decision for himself.
“You’ve got to make a decision that’s best for yourself and you would expect the people that love you the most to say they understand.”
For a while, it was Durant who didn’t understand. He admits he was angry when the Thunder gave his No. 35 jersey to undrafted rookie P.J. Dozier last month.
“I didn’t have that perspective at first. I didn’t have it when I went back to OKC. I was like, ‘F— all of them,'” Durant said. “I didn’t have it when they gave my number away. I was, ‘F— all of them.’ My best friend works for the team, I told him, ‘F— all y’all. That’s f—ed up.’ Then I had to get out of my head, tell myself, ‘It’s not that serious, it is what it is.’
“I understand it’s not my number anymore, they can do whatever they want with it, but you hand that number to a two-way player, you’ve got to be, like, ‘Nah, we’ve got too many good memories with this number, man.’ But at some point, that thing’s going to be in the rafters anyway; it’s all good. I did something they didn’t like. They did something I didn’t like. S— happens.
“If I was on my death bed, I guarantee you [Thunder owner] Sam Presti and Russell Westbrook would come check on me. So I’m going to look at it that way rather than the other way.”
Durant isn’t afraid to speak his mind, nor is he worried about criticism in doing so.
“I’m a person,” he told Bleacher Report. “I’ve got real feelings and I’m not afraid to be vulnerable in front of people who watch us play or that follow the league. …
“I’m a real person, dog, I don’t try to be Superman or a tough guy,” Durant said later. “I know I’m not. I know I’m emotional about some stuff. But I can tell you when I get between those lines, I guarantee my teammates know they can talk to me about anything and my coaches can coach me about anything. I’m not going to take it personal.”