Grant Cohn: Time for Warriors, Kevin Durant to part ways
Dear Kevin Durant,
Find a new team. Go someplace you feel appreciated. Make yourself happy.
No one wants to see you sulk on the court like you did in Game 2 against the Los Angeles Clippers. No one wants to you watch you pout during post-game press conferences like you have all season. Why are you so sad? Where is your joy? When did you become Mr. Negative?
You act like the Warriors are holding you hostage, Kevin. You don't seem part of the team anymore. You seem like you're pacing yourself for the next season and the next team. You seem focused on yourself, not the playoffs.
On Saturday, when the playoffs started, the Athletic ran an interview piece with you. It wasn't about the Warriors or your matchup with the Clippers. It was all about you and your favorite topic, something you can't stop discussing — your decision to come to the Warriors three years ago, and all you 'sacrificed' to join the team, such as MVPs, scoring titles and public goodwill. You sounded as though individual accolades are what really matter to you. Like you were doing the Warriors a favor.
'I sacrificed a lot of (expletive) to be here, and it was worth it,' you said, speaking in the past tense. Meaning the sacrifice could end soon, because you probably will leave.
Later that night, you played the first playoff game against the Clippers, and completely ignored head coach Steve Kerr's game plan. He told you Patrick Beverley would guard you and try to get in your head. He told you simply to ignore Beverley.
Instead, you ignored Kerr. In the fourth quarter, you knocked Beverley down, yelled at him, picked up two technical fouls and got ejected. You cared more about showing up Beverley than playing the game. You couldn't help yourself.
And you showed no regret afterward. You said your petty battle with Beverley was 'fun' and an opportunity to 'show emotion.'
Kerr wasn't amused. He was incredulous. 'We talked about it for two days,' he said. 'It was one of our keys — don't take the bait (from Beverley). And we took it.'
Not 'we.' You took it, Kevin.
Two days later, during Monday morning's shootaround before Game 2, a reporter relayed Kerr's comments to you. 'He said you guys took the bait.'
'Who, me?' you asked. 'Just me?'
'He said everybody,' the reporter said.
'If he's talking about Patrick Beverley, he must be just talking about me,' you answered. Then you acted contrite. 'I don't want to disappoint my coaches and fan base and owners who expect me to be out there on the floor, so I apologize (for) being thrown out.'
You added: 'I don't want to get in the way of what's going on out on the floor. I think that was a huge distraction, and I don't want that to be a part of this series.'
What do you have to do differently?' a reporter asked.
'Keep my mouth shut and just play the game,' you said.
It sure sounded good, but that's not what you did later that night during Game 2, Kevin. You kept your mouth shut, sure, but you didn't really play the game. You went through the motions. Coasted. Had one of the worst performances of your life. It was astonishing. On TV, the great Jim Barnett was astonished you weren't more involved.
You took only eight shots, committed a mind-numbing nine turnovers and fouled out. For the second game in a row, you got tossed. You are a superstar and you weren't around in crunch time. You let your teammates and your coaches down.
You seemed like you were trying to make a passive-aggressive statement to Kerr. If he doesn't want you to play with emotion, you won't play hard at all. See how Kerr likes that.
Meanwhile, when you were sulking on the court, you let Beverley embarrass you again. Beverley doesn't care about your feelings or sacrifices or perceived slights or your missed MVPs. He wants to crush your will to compete, and he's succeeding.
You want people to think you're the best player in the world. But in Game 2, you couldn't get your shot off against Beverley, a guard who's eight inches shorter than you. You got the ball, passed it away like it was kryptonite and jogged to the corner, away from the action. And you barely ran back on defense.
And you didn't own up to your mistakes. If Stephen Curry played as poorly as you did in Game 2, he would have talked to the media afterward. LeBron James would have, too. Great players want to be accountable all the time. Accountability is part of what makes them great. They are standup guys.
You didn't talk to the media after Game 2, Kevin. Couldn't face the hard questions. You walked to the locker room, grabbed your stuff and left the arena, just as you probably will leave the Warriors this summer.
Maybe you really should take a hike.
Grant Cohn covers the 49ers and Bay Area sports for The Press Democrat and pressdemocrat.com in Santa Rosa. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.