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#WeekendWalkOff: Will the real Kevin Durant please stand up?

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Durant never proclaimed himself “king,” he never made “The Decision” (nor has he had the chance to) or had any other public controversy at all, but he has recently undergone a surprising role transition that would make the writers at WWE proud.

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#WeekendWalkOff is a weekly column where sports and pop culture collide in a look at the one of the week’s biggest sports topics.

A little more than nine months ago, sports fans across the world fell in love with NBA superstar Kevin Durant as he gave his NBA Most Valuable Player acceptance speech. Thanking his teammates, coaches, fans and proclaiming his mother the real MVP, he solidified his role as the good guy in the NBA.

The four-time scoring champion rose to fame during a time when his lovable, good-guy image became a welcome alternative to the oft-publicized, oft-criticized LeBron James. Durant never proclaimed himself “king,” he never made “The Decision” (nor has he had the chance to) or had any other public controversy at all, but he has recently undergone a surprising role transition that would make the writers at WWE proud. 

For the first time in his career, Durant’s words were put under the microscope after the all-star fired some verbal shots at the media over All-Star Weekend this past weekend.

When asked about his head coach’s job security, Durant channeled his inner Hulk Hogan circa Bash on the Beach 1996 and responded with “you guys really don’t know shit.”

For the first time in his NBA career, Durant didn’t say what everyone was expecting him to.

Reaching the NBA Finals once and losing in the Western Conference Finals twice since 2009, Brooks has been under fire from fans and critics. Maybe his star player had finally had enough with questions about his coach that may or may not be warranted. But he didn’t stop there.

In the same media session, Durant said he spent his first few years in the league finding himself, and at 26 years old, he’s now comfortable expressing his opinion, regardless of what people think.

“I am not going to sit here and tell you that I am just this guy that is programmed to say the right stuff all the time and politically correct answers,” Durant said. “I am done with that.”

Okay, but he’s not the first player state his mind regardless of what people think. In December, James and other NBA players donned t-shirts reading “I can’t breathe,” the last words of Eric Garner who died in a confrontation with New York police in July.

But Durant didn’t stop there either.

In a GQ interview with Zach Baron, when talking about his team, Durant said “Obviously our players aren’t as good as, you know, than they were before. But you have to figure it out.”

Since that interview, Durant has claimed his words were misinterpreted and he was speaking on how the public perceives the Thunder. To his defense, though, maybe he’s right.

In 2012, the Thunder reached the NBA Finals, where they lost to the Miami Heat in five games. The next season Oklahoma City traded James Harden, one of its core pieces, to the Houston Rockets. The Thunder would go on to post the second best record in the league at 60-22, but would fall in five games to the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference Semifinals.

Since that season, the Thunder have lost in the conference finals, and this season, sit at 28-25 and half a game back from Phoenix and the eighth seed in the Western Conference. Meanwhile, Harden is one of the top five leading scorers in the league since the trade and currently leads the league with 27.4 points per game for the 36-17 Rockets.

Maybe Durant’s words are just the result of frustration with the Thunder front office or a season full of injuries for himself and his teammates. Maybe he’s finally figured out the kind of person he wants to be and is comfortable saying what’s on his mind.

Either way, we may be witnessing the greatest turn since Hogan, Mr. America, joined Scott Hall and Kevin Nash in that 1996 pay-per-view to form the New World Order (nWo). Cue the entrance music, Hollywood Kevin Durant has entered the building. 

Shannon Stowers can be contacted at [email protected]

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