Kevin Durant is the greatest scorer of all time and the best player currently in the NBA. That’s undebatable, especially following his lead role on the U.S. Men’s Gold medal team that struggled offensively and defensively in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics’ pool play. Despite KD’s accolades, his controversial decision to apostatize the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2016 tainted his public perception.
Pending a miraculous turn of events late in his career, KD will go down as the most hated generational great to play the game.
Some argue that Durant is a top 10 player all-time right now, others will say he’s in the 12-15 range, and some may say he’s 15-20. If he were to win another NBA title, he’d be in the top 10 without question. Over 14 seasons, he’s averaged a blistering 26.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 5.6 assists per game while shooting 53.7 percent from the field and 45 percent from three. He’s an 11-time All-Star, two-time NBA champion, two-time Finals MVP, one-time league MVP, six-time All-NBA First Team, three-time All-NBA Second Team, former Rookie of the Year, and a four-time scoring champion in the most gifted scoring era the NBA has seen..and has an Olympic Gold medal. His resume speaks for itself. Yet, he doesn’t have the same assemblage of die-hard fans as other all-time greats. He doesn’t even have the same supporting fanbase as current players in the league who aren’t as good as him.
We all know why; it was the decision to leave OKC, more so the way he left, the complicated breakup with the Golden State Warriors organization, the numerous amount of clap backs on social media, the burner social media accounts, and some unwarranted opinions and comments on the internet and interviews.
It’s still interesting thinking about how the best player in the league and a generational great like Durant isn’t beloved by the masses like every other player with a legacy like his.
Will he ever regain the support he had earlier in his career when he was with OKC?
The short answer is no. There will always be an asterisk by his name and the two championships he won with Golden State, but he has an opportunity to lead the Brooklyn Nets to a title this upcoming year. The Gold medal helped his case and created more of an international fanbase, but a title, or better yet, two that were both won on the back of Durant, would surely build the morale surrounding his name.
When thinking about KD’s most notorious running mate, Russell Westbrook, both he and Durant have transcended the game. The debate of who will go down as the better player is still in progress, but now, Durant is on another tier than Westbrook. Yet, Westbrook’s fanbase far outweighs Durant’s. Russ may be the most underappreciated player since Allen Iverson, but Westbrook’s supporters will go to war behind him. You can’t say the same about Durant’s.
KD has a fanbase, but they aren’t as boisterous as LeBron James, Steph Curry, James Harden, Giannis Antetokounmpo, or even Chris Paul’s fanbase, among others in the league. Yet, he’s undoubtedly the best player in the NBA.
When Durant joined the Warriors, he appeared conflicted. He wanted to be in a new situation, away from OKC, but also wanted to remain beloved like he was in OKC. There seemed to be an obsession with being admired, which sparked controversy on numerous occasions. While KD remains unapologetically outspoken, he appears to be embracing the hate and caring less about his public perception, which he should. When it’s all said and done, Durant will go down as the most mystifying great to step on a court, and that’s due to his lack of ride-or-die fans despite his abundance of success.