–The gentle handshake, the good manners, the smile – that’s what you get from KD off the court. He’s like that before just about every game, home or on the road. The scowl, the mean face, the piercing eyes – that’s the on-court killer in Durant that surfaces when he’s in the zone. One Nice to Not Nice transformation that will always stick with me happened during a mid-February 2010 trip to New York to play the Knicks.
The media horde stuffed their way inside the cramped visiting locker room at Madison Square Garden. They surrounded Durant, peppering him with questions, and Durant was as nice, and as cool, as could be.
Hours later, before an amped up New York crowd, Durant had his first big Garden moment. Durant started to heat up late in the second half, and with the Thunder down three with less than 20 second left, KD hit his biggest shot of the season, a three from the top of the key off a beautiful screen by teammate Nick Collison, to tie the game and silence the crowd.
The second the ball sailed through the net, Durant turned around, his face scrunched and lips pursed, raised his right hand to his forehead and saluted the MSG crowd.
Hitting a clutch basket then strutting your stuff and silencing 19,000 fans inside one of the most historic arenas? Not nice.
—Jump ahead to late January of 2011, with the Miami Heat in Oklahoma City to face the Thunder. Durant is talking to his teammates and Miami’s Chris Bosh decides to butt in and, as Durant later said, put his 2 cents into it.
KD doesn’t like it.
He and Bosh start jawing.
They both get T’d up.
After the game, neither was done talking. Durant said that while he thought Bosh was a cool guy off the court, that all goes out the window once the game starts. And Durant didn’t hesitate in expressing how he really felt about Bosh: “There’s a lot of fake tough guys in this league and he’s one of them,” Durant said. Publicly questioning someone’s toughness? That’s not nice.
Game 2 of the 2011 Western Conference Finals. Thunder at Mavericks. First quarter. Durant attacks the rim from the top of the key. Seven-footer Brendan Haywood is the only person standing in his way. Durant never thought twice. KD elevated, extended his right arm with the ball in hand, met Haywood at the rim and threw down a vicious one-handed dunk on the Mavs’ center with such force that Durant crashed to the floor, only to jump and stare down an ashamed looking Haywood.
Posterizing a player bigger than you, on national television in the playoffs, and all but shrinking him with a menacing stare? That’s not nice.
Chris Silva, former Pistons beat writer for the Detroit Free Press and Kevin Durant’s de facto biographer for thunder.nba.com, is a columnist for SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter at @silvawriter or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.