Durant went off Wednesday, breaking his silence over speculation that he would land with the Knicks after they traded Kristaps Porzingis.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr says Kevin Durant’s heated comments to — and at — the media late Wednesday caught him off-guard, but Kerr defended his star forward on Thursday, saying “let’s give him a pass … (t)here are times where you get upset.”
Durant ripped into the media after the Warriors’ win over the Spurs, telling reporters to “grow up” and beseeching them to “let us play basketball” after the topic of his pending free agency came up in a postgame media availability.
Upon the team’s landing in Phoenix on Thursday, Kerr appeared on 95.7 The Game radio in San Francisco. Not surprising, the main topic was Durant.
“Kevin’s been great over the past few years with the media,” Kerr began when Durant’s name came up. “He’s been very forthright and engaging. Last night, the last week or so — not so much. But let’s give him a pass.
“He’s a grown man, and he’s gotta do his job and I’ve gotta do mine. We talk all the time — just like I do with all the players. And they talk amongst themselves, so we’re all part of this. When you’re on the same team you deal with each other’s issues and you try to help each other through everything.”
Kerr put the whole episode in perspective as he spoke at length on the topic:
“It’s part of the deal. As I talk about with our team every year, it’s part of the gig. This is what we sign up for. Yes, we all get paid for either our coaching ability or playing ability, but we also get paid to be part of the soap opera and the machine, whatever you want to call it. The beast.”
The postgame fireworks went off as Durant broke his weeklong media silence as chatter grew that he would land with the Knicks, who traded young star Kristaps Porzingis to the Mavericks last week.
And it caught Kerr by surprise: “Even though he wasn’t speaking with the media for the last week, I just thought he just needed a break. He was probably tired of all the speculation, and I just thought he’ll eventually get back speaking with the media. I didn’t see any of that coming what happened (Wednesday) night.”
It’s part of the grind that can wear down a player, something Durant alluded to.
“Y’all come in here every day, ask me about free agency, ask my teammates, my coaches, you rile up the fans about it,” Durant said, in part, on Wednesday ( via NBC Sports Bay Area ). “Yo, let us play basketball. That’s all I’m saying. And now when I don’t want to talk to y’all, it’s a problem with me.”
In essence, Kerr on Thursday was sympathetic to his player. But he also acknowledged that the scrutiny Durant receives is part of being a high-profile player in a high-profile league.
“All that revenue that generates the salary cap, it doesn’t all come from ticket sales. It comes from media rights and all kinds of financial streams that are based on people’s intense interest in the league. And so you just kind of have to deal with that and go along with that.
“There are times where you get upset and you just move on — you keep going.”
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