— Scott Burris (@ScottBurris) May 14, 2014
In terms of bad playoff games, Kevin Durant was setting a new standard in Game 5 of the Western Conference semis. The Oklahoma City MVP was 3-for-17 from the field through three quarters, and his team was down 13 with four minutes to play. Events then took such a wild turn that 10 KD points and two Chris Paul errors put Russell Westbrook on the foul line with a chance to win the game in the final seconds. Durant decided he simply couldn’t watch. He sat down at the other end of the basketball court and waited. The moment spawned a Durant Twitter meme.
Kevin Durant is such a unique personality compared to other NBA superstars that the move isn’t surprising. Humble, respectful, thoughtful, and at times child-like, Durant’s mini vacation at the empty end of the court served as a moment for him to comprehend how furious and improbable the concluded run really was. Westbrook nailed three free throws and the game ended shortly thereafter. But the fun on Twitter had just begun.
Hardwood Paroxysm had initiated a photo contest using Durant’s Buddha-like image on OKC’s court. Moments earlier, it would have been easy to question why Durant and Westbrook had again been launching contested jumpers as opposed to moving the ball around to teammates to find an open man. Clutch defense and shooting by Durant brought the Thunder back. Fans proceeded to have fun with it.
Several questionable calls by the officials had led to OKC being in position to win the game. One was a missed foul call on Matt Barnes that led to OKC gaining possession of a ball that was clearly off a Thunder player. Officials can’t have it both ways. Either it was off Barnes or not; missing the foul call should not warrant a makeup call to give Oklahoma City the ball.
Chris Paul’s turnover was an unforced error, as was his foul that put Westbrook on the line with a chance to turn the series in the Thunder’s favor. All these crazy events can explain what would make an NBA player want to sit on the court and take stock of the moment at hand. No one’s ever seen it before Durant did it.
The NBA has an incredibly likable figure in its new MVP, which makes the league lucky during a year when the press has been less than favorable for pro basketball. Fans of the game — not to mention Twitter high jinks — are sure to cherish KD for as long as he plays in the league.