By Connor Buestad | Connor@Section925.com
Tim Kawakami has Section925 blocked on Twitter, out of laughable sports blogging pettiness, so I haven’t been allowed to keep up on his hot takes in the sports world as of late. His co-worker at The Athletic, Ethan Strauss is also hard for me to find behind the site’s paywall. Regardless, the two writers are clearly talented and successful in their own right, with the pedigree and player access to prove it. That being said, there’s no arguing that both of these reporters have a habit of getting under the skin of the athletes and coaches that they cover. In fact, they seem to take pride in this. They portray themselves as bad-ass journalists that don’t back down when they are fed bullshit in a press conference. They would tell you how they stand up for what’s right and report on the truth. They refuse to be in the business of Public Relations for the teams they cover. Straight shooters that their readers can trust, they’ll tell you.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that if you go out of your way to stir up some shit with a player or coach, your subject might eventually get a little fed up. I remember when Kawakami covered Jim Harbaugh’s successful 49ers teams, there was always tension between him and the team. Sure, Harbaugh could be a jerk in interviews, but Kawakami continued to pester Jim and the front office, even when it was clear they were in no mood to talk. Kawakami was essentially asking for it, always looking to ruffle feathers. Always asking one more question than was appropriate.
For this reason, it comes as no surprise that Durant snapped at his recent press conference. Yes, Kristaps Porzingis had been traded out of New York to clear up cap space, and yes KD is embarking on free agency. But Durant still has the right to be upset that Strauss decided to publish a piece declaring that Durant already has his foot out the door to NYC. It’s really not that complicated. Durant has never said he wants to leave the Warriors, but the media covering his team are writing about how he’s going to be gone. So that pisses him off, especially when you consider his production in a Warriors uniform, two Finals MVP’s, etc.
This three minute press conference has been analyzed and debated to death by the national media, but to me, it couldn’t be more simple if you watch the whole thing play out. Kawakami kicks off the questioning with something he knows Durant doesn’t want to discuss. What is Durant supposed to say in that situation? “Yes, yes I think New York sounds fun, I’ll probably go play there next year. Thanks.” Of course he’s not in the mood to hear that question and of course we know he can’t really answer it with anything other than “I’m here to win games for Golden State and that’s what I’m focused on. Thanks.” That’s what Durant could have, and probably should have said, but instead he was more honest with how he felt. How he felt betrayed by the media when all he’s been doing is producing for the Warriors and keeping his mouth shut. Durant wasn’t asking for a fight, but Kawakami and his buddy Ethan brought him one anyway. Naturally, he got defensive and to be honest, it’s hard for me to blame him. Kawakami and Strauss set out to get Durant to crack and that’s exactly what they got. Nobody involved should act surprised.
(Below: listen to Strauss joke about Durant and the press conference and also hear KD add more context to the story.)