Kevin Durant watched the Golden State Warriors practice last week while wearing a dark hoodie emblazoned with the message, “Been Through The Fire.” Durant may think so, but Charles Barkley said the fire Durant has experienced with the Warriors can’t compare with what he would face if he were to play in New York.
“Well, I’d say, 'Kevin, you’re one of the greatest players I’ve ever seen. You’ve also got some of the thinnest skin I’ve ever seen. I don’t know if you’re made for New York City,’” Barkley said during a conference call to promote the American Century Championship golf tournament next month in Nevada (via SNY’s Ian Begley). “I think that would be the toughest aspect.”
Durant can opt out of his Warriors contract this summer, and speculation has been rampant that he might end up playing for the Knicks in Manhattan or for the Nets in the possibly more forgiving atmosphere of Brooklyn.
Since leaving Oklahoma City for the Bay Area in the summer of 2016, Durant’s profile has expanded exponentially — for better and for worse. He has drawn criticism for upsetting the NBA’s competitive balance and has sparred with fans and reporters, from well-known media members (such as Fox’s Chris Broussard) to virtually anonymous fans. He also found himself at the epicenter of a 2017 social media episode in which he was found to have been clapping back at critics while using burner accounts.
“If he’s arguing with these teenagers online, he’s not going to be able to deal with that New York media,” Barkley said. “He’s a great person. He’s a great player. I don’t think he has the mental makeup to play in New York. That’s just my personal opinion.”
Sorry, Charles, but Nike seems to think Durant is headed back to California. On a Durant T-shirt the apparel giant sells, San Francisco appears as the next city on the list of Durant’s career stops. The Warriors are moving from Oakland to San Francisco next season, and the Bay Area remains nowhere near NYC.
The attention on Durant ramped up significantly, even by the standards applied to someone who was the 2014 NBA MVP, when he joined the Warriors three years ago, and it figures to go stratospheric this summer.
At the moment, though, his team is trying for an NBA championship three-peat, facing the Toronto Raptors in the NBA Finals and wondering whether Durant will play again this season, not where he might end up next season. Durant, MVP of the past two finals, has missed Golden State’s past seven playoff games with a calf injury and won’t play in Game 3 Wednesday night. Barkley reiterated his belief that Durant won’t play at all in the Finals, but earlier in the week Coach Steve Kerr said it was “feasible” that Durant could play after practicing only once, which would seem to indicate that he might play in Game 4 on Friday.
“[I]t’s really a day-to-day thing. If we had a crystal ball,” Kerr told reporters, “we would have known a long time ago what we were dealing with. It’s just an injury — there’s been a lot of gray area.”
Barkley, who doesn’t really do gray areas and has said he would rather watch the Stanley Cup playoffs, also had a few words for Durant’s teammate Draymond Green and for Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins because 1) he’s Barkley and 2) he keeps track of Players He Would Like to Slug Right in the Kisser.
“He’s a hell of a player, and he’s an annoying guy. Draymond is a hell of a player, and he’s an annoying guy,” Barkley said of Marchand, who has scored eight goals during the playoffs and, like Green, has a propensity for physical play.
“There’s a bunch of really good players who are really annoying to play against, and you would want to play with them. So I look at Draymond and Marchand as the same type of players. Just terrific players who would be really annoying to play against, and you really want to punch them in the face.”
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