Kevin Durant had some harsh words about a former teammate becoming a “sellout.” His attack on Kendrick Perkins was perhaps odd coming from a man who walked out the Oklahoma City Thunder to take the easy path to NBA championships with the Golden State Warriors.
Kendrick Perkins wasn’t buying what Kyrie Irving was selling
The NBA was already collectively on edge this week before fears about a new outbreak of the COVID-19 virus materialized. NBA owners thought they had an agreement with the players on a resumption of the season at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, until a combination of new logistical concerns and angst following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis surfaced.
Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving suddenly became a polarizing figure by running a conference call with an estimated 85 fellow players during which he suggested boycotting the re-start to the season due to widespread social unrest.
By the end of the week, however, support from players for Irving had largely evaporated. It didn’t take retired NBA player Kendrick Perkins nearly as long to cast doubt. Now a commentator for ESPN, Perkins ridiculed Irving during a Tuesday radio interview.
“No one is listening to Kyrie,” Perkins said. “The NBA is going to continue. All he’s doing is causing unnecessary drama between the NBA brothers that we don’t need right now. Him lashing out is just making news and making a whole bunch of noise for nothing because the NBA season is going to happen.”
Perkins also suggested Irving was diverting attention from the Black Lives Matter movement, and those comments didn’t sit well with Kevin Durant.
Kevin Durant goes on the attack against Kendrick Perkins
Hearing Kendrick Perkins’ criticism of Kyrie Irving got Kevin Durant fired up and defending his Brooklyn Nets teammate. He went on social media to show a clip of Perkins putting up an airball during his playing days and upped the stakes by calling him a “sellout” in the comments of a file Perkins had posted on Instagram.
ESPN First Take host Stephen A. Smith reminded viewers that “sellout” has negative connotations in the black community.
“A sellout is a very disparaging label handed down to a black person who is believed to be operating against the best interest of his own community as a whole,” Smith noted. “So, when people say this kind of stuff, a lot of times I’m looking at them like, ‘What the hell are you talking about?’”
Perkins could be seen on the screen tearing up. He offered a nearly two-minute response during which he told Durant that the whole Perkins family still loves him, and finishing by saying, “I still love you to this day, my brother, And I’m going to leave it at that.”
Kevin Durant doesn’t exactly own the high moral ground
The old expression about how people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones comes to mind. Kevin Durant may be sticking up for teammate Kyrie Irving now, but he’s also the guy who walked out on the Oklahoma City Thunder just when things were getting interesting.
The Thunder were 45-37 and then 55-27 in Durant’s final two seasons there. He averaged 28.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 5.0 assists in the 2015-16 season and then left to play for the defending-champion Golden State Warriors. Durant won two NBA titles there before leaving in free agency again.
When Durant exited Oklahoma City, he left behind Russell Westbrook, the other half of one of the NBA’s most dynamic duos, after a postseason run that ended with the Thunder blowing a 3-1 series lead to Golden State in the Western Conference finals.
Leaving at that juncture was bad. Leaving to play for the Warriors was worse.