"He did challenge my credibility, and I must respond to that," Chris Broussard said of Kevin Durant, above. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Being out with a calf injury while his Warriors swept their way to the NBA Finals had to have been a bit of a bummer for Kevin Durant. On the bright side, it has given him more time to engage in his second-most favorite activity: reacting to things people are saying about him on the Internet.

In his latest online feud, Durant has gotten into it with Chris Broussard of Fox Sports. After the Golden State star accused Broussard of lying about the nature and extent of their personal exchanges, the veteran NBA reporter fired back and asserted his credibility on the matter.

Durant should have plenty of time to continue the back-and-forth. The Warriors announced on Thursday that while Durant “continues to make good progress” with his rehabilitation, “it is unlikely that he will play at the beginning of the 2019 NBA Finals.” The team said in a statement that it remains hopeful that Durant “could return at some point during the series.” The Finals are scheduled to begin on May 30, with subsequent games on June 2, 5 and 7. A potential Game 7 would be on June 16.

Broussard initially got on Durant’s radar on Monday by tweeting out this hot-take-ish question: “If Warriors win title without KD, does that diminish his 2 rings?”

Appended to that tweet was one from Fox Sports Radio, passing along quotes from a recent appearance made by Broussard in which he said, “Kevin Durant’s worst nightmare is coming true.” Broussard’s overall point from that segment was that if the Warriors win it all this year with Durant out, the forward’s contributions to their last two championships will be even more discounted by those already scornful of his jumping on the Warriors’ bandwagon.

Approximately five minutes after Broussard posed his question, Durant replied with a pair of his own: “I see a little exaggeration there buddy, my worst nightmare?? U sure that this is the worst that it can get???”

The Warriors’ Andre Iguodala responded to Durant’s tweet by profanely offering words of support for his teammate. Another Twitter user seemed less supportive, telling Durant, “calm down we know you’re sensitive,” to which the forward replied, “U right, lemme chill before my sensitivity flare up.”

However, Durant wasn’t quite ready to chill Wednesday, when he saw another tweet related to his new nemesis. This one showed Broussard saying on FS1′s “Undisputed” that he and Durant have occasionally “texted for two, three hours straight.”

“Cap cap cap,” Durant said about that claim, repeating a slang term for lying. He added that Broussard didn’t even “have my number.”

Durant’s accusations of dishonesty were too much for Broussard to let go without comment. First he tweeted to Durant that the two-time Finals MVP was focusing too much on the reference to texting, and that direct messages via social-media platforms amounted to “the same thing nowadays.”

“Don’t act like I’m lying,” Broussard added.

He then shared a video several hours later in apparent reaction to demands from others online that he post images of some of the direct messages to prove he wasn’t lying about them. Broussard claimed that he had over 60 direct messages from Durant via Twitter and Instagram, dating back to February 2018, many of which were part of “conversations initiated by KD himself.”

“For those of you wanting me to publish these DMs, it’s not going to happen,” Broussard said to the camera in his video. “Out of respect for KD, those texts will remain private.”

Broussard began his video by saying, “I like and respect Kevin Durant and am not trying to continue a Twitter beef with him. However, he did challenge my credibility, and I must respond to that.”

If Durant doesn’t respond, he could go back to chirping at Warriors fan accounts, as he did while the rest of his team was in the midst of a four-game sweep of the Trail Blazers in the Western Conference finals (H/T Deadspin).

One Instagram-based account asked its followers what they thought of comments made by Portland’s Seth Curry, who said last week that the Warriors “move around faster when [Durant is] not out there.” Curry added, “They’re definitely not a better team, but they’re harder to guard.”

The account asked, “Is Seth Curry speaking facts?” Durant, who has been out since injuring his calf during Game 5 of Golden State’s second-round victory over Houston, replied, “Hell no.”

Presumably, Durant was denying that the Warriors are “harder to guard” without him rather than taking issue with the premise that they are “definitely not a better team” in his absence.

In any event, after Golden State took a 3-0 series lead against the Blazers, Durant chastised a Warriors fan who crowed that a comeuppance was in store for the “doubters and haters” who supposedly questioned whether Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green could win playoff games “without KD.”

Durant told the fan that his comments were “very divisive,” telling him‚ “let’s celebrate this win as [Warriors fans]." In his reply to the post, Durant wondered what the “[f-bomb]” was “wrong” with the fan.

In the past, Durant has been widely suspected of using “burner accounts” to clap back at critics, be they nationally known reporters or simply average people sharing their opinions. He has also been more than willing to use his verified accounts to similarly engage in ways that some have suggested are beneath him, or at least not worth his time.

Durant, though, is as much a fan of basketball as he is one of its foremost practitioners, very much plugged into the hoops discussions taking place online. It’s just that some of those discussions are about him and as he has repeatedly shown, he is sensitive to criticism.

In one 2018 episode, Durant replied to a teenager on Instagram who said that the Warriors star was an “elite” player who nevertheless could not “elevate a team” in the manner of Curry or LeBron James because of his “playmaking/leadership deficiencies.”

"Bruh go sweep ya dorm room, u don’t know hoops. Stop tagging me in this trash,” Durant told the teen, Kalyb Champion.

Durant then began a private exchange with Champion, using direct messages, some of which were captured as images and shared online.

“Y’all got people thinking that since I get buckets in the nba I’m too big and famous to be a black man at 7pm on a Tuesday, scrolling through Instagram,” Durant was shown to have told Champion. " … I like Instagram. I like basketball. you GOTS to be trippin if I’m not gonna chime in every here and there."

In a subsequent essay for The Guardian, Champion said of Durant, “I appreciate that he acknowledged what I had to say, but didn’t like the way he went about taking personal shots at me.” He also claimed that Durant got back in touch with him after the published exchange and they apologized to each other.

“We then had a casual conversation about basketball, and I was able to pick the brain of one of the greatest talents in the sport,” Champion wrote. “I will never forget the experience and I realize all the opportunities this opens for my basketball analysis career moving forward.”

In Broussard’s case, he hasn’t needed Durant to open any professional doors for him, but thanks to the forward’s penchant for online clap-backs, he has been given some terrific material for his TV and radio appearances.

“After all of this, I will continue to love, respect and pray for Kevin Duran — and objectively analyze him as a basketball player,” Broussard said Wednesday in his video. “See you on ‘Undisputed,’ tomorrow morning.”

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