Kevin Durant is Taking his Brand to the Next Level

It has been a little over two years since Kevin Durant’s move from Oklahoma City to Golden State.  From a basketball standpoint, Durant made a move that was scrutinized by most experts and some players around the league, but that same decision has led him to two NBA Championships with two Finals MVP’s to go along with them.

Now, many have made the obvious point that Durant took the easy way out, and yes, he most certainly did, but in any other industry that is not sports, people make decisions like that all the time.  Why would you not want to surround yourself with great teammates and management that leads you to ultimate success in whatever you are trying to accomplish?  Competitive balance is important, especially in sports, which is an entertainment business, but the NBA has never really had much competitive balance.  The teams with the bona fide superstars tend to dominate the league year after year.  Kobe with the Lakers. Duncan with the Spurs.  LeBron with whoever he was playing for at the time.  Whatever team Durant plays on during his prime will end up in the Conference Finals barring any injuries.  That is just how it is.

When Durant was in Oklahoma City, no one knew much about the guy.  He was quiet, he did a ton for his community, and most important, he was dedicated to becoming the best player in the NBA.  The only thing he did outside the box was star in the movie “Thunderstruck,” where he swaps his basketball talents with a high school kid.  It was not that great of a movie.

That has all changed now that Durant resides on the Bay.

Since his decision to join the Warriors, Durant has been outspoken regarding just about everything in his life, whether that is basketball, his off-the court-investments, and his feelings about nearly any topic that he is asked about, except for Russell Westbrook (for the most part).  He recorded a five-podcast series with Bill Simmons where the discussed the NBA and where it is today, along with a few mailbag episodes where he answered questions from Simmons’ fans.  He has become more vocal on social media, including an incident where he responded to an internet troll on his official Twitter account rather than his alleged burner account.  Durant comes off as overly sensitive now-a-days, and his latest episode might have reinforced that sediment.

Durant recently joined Portland Trailer Blazers guard CJ McCollum’s podcast to discuss the state of the NBA, and how it is to be an NBA player on a day-to-day basis.  It was a fun conversation to listen to, and I recommend everyone to go check it out.  McCollum during this conversation repeatedly ripped Durant for leaving the Thunder for the Warriors, and at the time, it all seemed playful and kindhearted.  Wednesday evening though, Barstool’s Big Cat tweeted at McCollum asking for his permission to start using the “B word,” again to describe Durant as part of a running joke from McCollum’s appearance with Pardon My Take.  McCollum responded to Big Cat with this:

“I still think the b word is harsh and shouldn’t be used. . He know that decision was soft but I respect it. It’s like getting jumped with ur brothers by a gang you should’ve beat then joining the gang that jumped u and ur brothers 2 months later & forgetting about your bros.” via @CJMcCollum on Twitter.

Durant was not a fan of the analogy used by McCollum in response to Big Cat and responded to CJ, tweeting:

“So,I would get into a gang fight, lose, plot on my brother for 2 months in our home and then go get the gang we lost to and beat him up? U think that low of me CJ? I just did your fuckin podcast. Snakes in the grass boy I tell ya ” via @KDTrey5 on Twitter.

Durant continued responding to fans on social media throughout the night and was asked about it during a team USA media availability session after one of their practices, stating that he is not upset about the McCollum scuffle, and does not understand why people think he is upset, but McCollum isn’t.

Durant’s reactions to fans, trolls, and media members usually infuriates and confuses everyone.  Everyone has a strong opinion about how Durant handles his business.  Durant is polarizing.  Polarizing sells.

Durant’s “Oversensitivity,” has become his brand.  People either make the claim that Durant is a big baby that gets offended by every little thing that gets thrown his way, or they go the complete other way and say he is just being authentic, and plays the “I’m just like everyone else,” card.

Like most things in life, the truth most likely lies somewhere right in the middle, but Durant has realized over the past year that his behavior on social media sells.  People cannot get enough of it.  Training camps are starting up in the NFL, some good playoff races are starting to blossom in the MLB, but what is everyone talking about?  Kevin Durant’s social media posts.  Incredible.

I believe we are going to see more and more of this as this season goes along.  There is a slight possibility that Durant could part ways with the Warriors after this season if he desires to chase after another challenge.  If this happens, I am sure all the Durant haters will be in full force no matter what decision he makes.  Durant will be ready to respond to members of that group and make just as much noise about his activity on social media as his basketball decision.

I enjoy listening to current athletes talk about the leagues they are currently playing in.  Durant, McCollum, and JJ Redick have broken the mold of players being constrained to their media availability, and not giving too much information to the public.  I hope to see this kind of content continue to flourish and expands to other sports leagues.

Durant has broken a mold of his own, though.  He is the first generational talent to really open up to the public about his feelings toward things.  He has shown he is vulnerable.  He coined the term, “Blog Boys.”  He has shown that he is a normal dude that just happens to be 7-foot tall.  Many people will interpret that the same way I do (he is sensitive, but at least he is authentic), and some will think the polar opposite of that. And that is why Kevin Durant’s brand is stronger than it has ever been.

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