It’s almost unheard of to see a press conference tirade after a victory — especially a blowout victory. After all, as the old adage in sports goes, “Winning cures everything”.
But last Wednesday, following Golden State’s 39-point demolition of the undermanned Spurs, Kevin Durant saved the largest fireworks for his press conference. After refusing to talk to the media for eight straight days, Durant exploded into a three-minute rant, blaming the media for twisting his words and speculating about his future.
Durant has never handled criticism well — just look at all the burner accounts on Twitter justifying his move to Golden State. I was one of the people who criticized Durant for that move; to me, it felt more like a cop-out than anything else. If Durant truly wanted to prove he was the best player in the league, he shouldn’t have joined the reigning NBA champions.
Yet Kevin Durant is unequivocally correct in calling out the media. In doing so, he paints a broader picture of the issues surrounding sports journalism in the 21st century.
In a society that craves sensationalism and Buzzfeed-esque articles and in a world that revolves around social media, sports journalism has morphed into what feels like a glorified tabloid section.
When Kristaps Porzingis was traded from the Knicks to the Mavericks — a trade made mostly to clear the Knicks’ cap space — multiple basketball insiders claimed that the Knicks “had evidence” that Kevin Durant would sign with them in free agency.
Now, there is no problem with a reporter expressing their opinion, as long as they make it known that it is just that: the opinion of the writer.
If Ethan Strauss, the reporter from the The Athletic who Durant specifically called out, wanted to write an opinion piece on Durant’s upcoming free agency, he should have labeled his piece as such.
If he wanted to write a feature about it, he could have talked to Warriors brass, Knicks brass, Durant’s teammates and Durant himself about the impending decision.
It’s almost impossible to write a credible article when you can’t get a single source to go on the record.
Durant himself has said on multiple occasions that he has no ties to the Knicks and that he knows nothing about their long-term plans. Yet, in an effort to get clicks, reporters keep making it seem like it’s a done deal that Durant will ultimately sign there this summer.
Some people may wonder why Durant doesn’t just clarify the facts himself with the media. If he’s so fed up about being misrepresented, why didn’t he talk to the media for more than eight days straight?
The reason: Mainstream sports media continues to take quotes out of context in order to push a narrative. Look at Kyrie Irving, a player who many people believe will team up with Durant in New York after the season.
All of last week, people quoted Irving saying, “I don’t owe anybody shit,” in response to questions about his free agency plans. Even highly respected journalists like ESPN’s Marc Stein used this quote to make it seem like Irving’s leaving was a foregone conclusion.
In the context of the full quote, however, Irving’s words merely portray a man who is frustrated with the constant rumors from the media. In the same exact quote, Irving stated he “still has confidence in Boston and the plan for the future” — a part of the statement that was conveniently left out by reporters.
Kyrie Irving is certainly no lock to stay in Boston beyond this year; the team has been underperforming all season, and the players seem to be frustrated in the locker room. If Irving doesn’t believe he can win a championship, he will leave.
But to suggest that Irving and Durant have some master plan to meet up in New York is ludicrous.
The Knicks have proven time and time again their incompetence as a franchise. Just because they cleared the cap space does not mean they will land one or both of the superstars.
If Irving and Durant are fed up with the media now, imagine what would happen if they played in New York.
And yet, every rumor connects Durant and Irving to the Knicks with little to no evidence.
Reporters constantly push the narrative that superstars will just flock to big-market franchises like birds migrating north. Remember when Paul George was considered a lock to join the Lakers — how did that one turn out?
As a fellow journalist, I get it. Journalism is a dying field, and in the era of fast-paced social media, reporters are fighting tooth and nail for every click, every interaction.
People no longer have the time or attention span to read a full-blown article, and these out-of-context soundbites certainly help them accomplish their goal.
But that’s not the role of the media. The media exists to keep teams and players honest, to give greater insight to fans following from home.
The media’s job is not to speculate, to make up rumors or to act like they’re coming from a verified source.
I’m just as frustrated as Kevin Durant when it comes to this sensationalism. Journalists are already maligned in mainstream society thanks to the myth of “fake news.” When journalists and reporters purposely speculate for clicks and interactions, it just adds fuel to the fire.
After watching all of this unfold, why should a UCSB player or coach trust me to not twist their words?
By purposely misrepresenting others’ views in an effort to get clicks, sports journalists are undermining the integrity of all sports journalists — including those of us at the Daily Nexus.
Brandon Victor currently serves as the assistant sports editor. He has covered men’s tennis, men’s soccer and women’s basketball in his two years at the Daily Nexus.