From Hater to Admirer: Why KD Has Earned My Respect

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An article by Angel Maldonado

Have you ever been in a situation where someone judged you for one action that you took and overlooked every other aspect of you? Maybe you snapped at someone one time and were called moody because of it despite it being a one time thing. Perhaps you made one mistake with your significant other and now they always bring it up. Well, we are that significant other, and KD is the victim.

I was admittedly one of those people who called Kevin Durant the softest player in the league. Joining a 73 win team after blowing a 3-1 lead to them felt weak, finding out he defended himself with burners felt weak, and his rings felt devalued when he won. I was one of those people who truly believed Kevin Durant ruined the NBA. I thought he was soft for using burner accounts to defend himself. To be frank, I was a KD hater through and through. Sure, some of those points are still valid. Joining a 73 win team isn’t the move that most Alpha players would do, especially after that same team eliminated you the year before. But if last night proved anything it’s that KD’s rings aren’t devalued. He earned them. He’s not just along for the ride, he is a vital component that makes the Warriors a true championship juggernaut. And he has been unfairly treated for the past 3 years, but especially so for this year’s playoffs.

Talk of KD leaving has dominated the Warriors’ season. Whether it was Draymond Green calling Durant a “bit*h” or Warriors management saying Steph was more important, it felt like the Warriors were embracing a Durant departure. He didn’t feel like part of the team from an outsiders point of view. And I blamed this on Durant. I thought he was being a diva and picking a fight with his teammates because he didn’t care. He came to Golden State, won his rings, and was leaving. He looked like a mercenary and he was the perfect villain for the media to jump on. When KD got hurt, an injury that we can now see was extremely serious all along, people were questioning it. “He’s just being petty”, “He wants to look like a hero”, and “What a soft ass dude” were just some of the comments I saw being thrown around on multiple social media platforms. This narrative only grew when KD was cleared to play Game 5 without a minutes restriction. People assumed KD only came back to be a hero, boost his Free Agency profile, and save his legacy. Perhaps he wanted to save his legacy and perhaps he did want to be a hero. But one thing is clear. When he came back, Kevin Durant was not thinking about his Free Agency. He just wanted to win, like he always has.

It was clear Kevin Durant was still hurting the moment the game started. Trolls on Twitter kept spreading the narrative that KD’s monstrous first quarter proved he was faking an injury, but most people could see the lack of mobility and explosiveness in KD’s game. He was acting almost exclusively as a perimeter shooter, but it was working. He had brought life back to the Warriors and suddenly the “Raptors in 5” people were screaming “Warriors in 7.” And then it happened. On a normal dribble, what seemed to be KD’s achilles just popped. And… people cheered. A player had just suffered what can potentially be a life altering injury and people were cheering. It was then I realized how unfair and how harsh we have all been on Kevin Durant. Here he was, clearly hobbling just to try and help his team have a shot at coming back, and people were cheering the fact that he was injured. It was a pathetic sight and an awful look for a fanbase that most people are rooting for. That’s when I realized I’d been treating KD far too harshly. Yes, he was the man that went to a 73 win team when he was among the best in the world. Yes, it was a weak move. But this is also a man that revitalized the Thunder. This was also the man that could not hold back tears when talking about his mother when he won the MVP. This was the man risking his livelihood in order to help his brothers win one more championship. It’s time we stop treating KD with such little respect. It’s ok to dislike a player; it’s part of what makes sports the best. But it’s time to treat KD with the respect he deserves. Here’s wishing him all the best in his recovery and hopefully, wherever he goes, he’s treated with the respect he has earned.

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