It wasn’t always pretty to watch, but the Redskins' 23-17 victory Sunday over the Panthers was a thing of beauty to Washington fans, including one Kevin Durant. To the Warriors star, though, possibly even more pleasing than the win was the opportunity to troll Stephen Curry.
Durant’s Golden State teammate and fellow perennial MVP contender is well-known as a rabid Carolina fan, having been raised in Charlotte while his father, Dell Curry, played for the Hornets. Thus, he found himself the object of Durant’s scorn, as did one of his signature-series Under Armour shoes, appropriately in a Panthers' blue-and-black colorway.
In a video posted to social media, Durant shows himself picking up the Curry shoe and saying, “Somebody get these pieces of s--- outta here.” He then tosses the sneaker at his teammate, seated nearby, taunting him by saying, “How does that a-- whipping taste?”
Befitting his mild-mannered persona, Curry appears to take the troll job in stride, chuckling while avoiding direct recognition of what Durant had just done. In that sense, the video could be bad news for fans of other NBA teams hoping to see some signs of locker-room tension, but the video did contain an interesting undercurrent of the ongoing “sneaker wars.”
By casting aspersions on Curry’s shoe, albeit in jest, Durant offered a reminder that he is a prominent Nike endorser, while Curry is easily the most important athlete on Under Armour’s roster, at least in terms of his potential effect on shoe sales. When Durant stunned the NBA in July 2016 by defecting from the Thunder to the already-mighty Warriors, a conspiracy theory even made the rounds that Nike was pulling the strings on that move, intentionally putting him on Curry’s squad to blunt the latter’s burgeoning effectiveness in both the MVP race and in the lucrative sneaker market.
It’s not the first time that Durant has appeared to take a dim view of Under Armour shoes, either. While Sunday’s remark appeared to be entirely for comedic effect, the Prince George’s County native and 2006 Washington Post boys’ player of the year struck a more earnest tone last year, when he said on a Bill Simmons podcast that part of the Terrapins' problems in recruiting was that “a lot of kids, to be honest, they don’t choose Maryland unless they play in an Under Armour system coming up.”
“Nobody wants to play in Under Armours, I’m sorry,” he added at the time. “Like, the top kids don’t, because they all play Nike.”
Curry subsequently told the Charlotte Observer that he and Durant had a conversation about those comments and that he wasn’t upset. Curry claimed that while Durant was informed by his own experience playing in Nike-run youth leagues, the latter’s remarks did not “ring true” to “what the Curry brand means and what Under Armour basketball means.”
“This is nothing that is going to put a wrench in the locker room,” Curry said.
Apparently he was correct in that assessment, given how comfortable Durant felt Sunday in dissing both Curry and his shoe. It likely helped that the two have a history when it comes to Redskins-Panthers games, as they revealed in 2016 that they had an unspecified wager on the outcome of that season’s showdown between the two NFL teams.
Carolina took that one, 26-15, although perhaps if Durant had realized it was a Monday night game — i.e., an almost certain loss for the burgundy-and-gold — he might never have made a bet. In any event, he was clearly delighted to exact some sweet revenge on Sunday, making sure Curry couldn’t quickly move past what turned into a sole-crushing defeat.
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