When I was in high school, I, for a brief period of time, pretended to be someone else. It was only ever over the phone, and only with certain people (girls from my school, mainly) but it happened. The purpose of this charade was simple, almost boring: them laughs. The name of the fake young man I portrayed—his voice was velvety, deeper than mine, and he spoke without fear, without fucks—was Hank Tims. He went to school a few towns over. Had just moved there recently, actually. He had heard about the girl, seen her at a football game, thought she was interesting, wanted to know if, perhaps, she had some interest in getting together. They could meet at the food court in the mall. Sbarros is delicious this time of year.
They were prank calls, done with friends—girls and boys—in the room. They brought the house down, but were silly, and somewhat regretful, done in the throes of wanting to feel a certain way. Different, perhaps, but also something more. I loved the feeling of saying a thing and not having to answer for it. It made me feel powerful, strong. I never thought I’d type this, but Dear God the many things the year 2017 hath wrought: Kevin Durant and I have something in common.
Durant slipped up. Internet is not available under rocks, so I’m assuming if you’re here, you know what it is I’m talking about it. He had fake Twitter accounts created that he would use to clap back at people attempting to clap at him. Stan for himself, essentially. He’d fire back with opinions that were his own that just happened to be typed by a character not burdened with celebrity, all the eyes. This alternate account could fire off defenses with *very Kevin Harlan voice* no regard for human life. Let the barbs go. Aim small, miss small. Give the people who try to hurt you that feeling in return.
Someone asked him for one legitimate reason for leaving Oklahoma City other than winning a championship. He, under an alternate account, yes, gave a couple. He didn’t like the organization, he said. Didn’t like playing for Billy Donovan, he said. The roster was no good, he said. One of his followers—think about that for a second, stew on it. One of HIS followers. Durant didn’t ask the guy to follow him. The man wanted to and Durant, gracious as ever, and kind, let him—took a screenshot. Then the Internet had a hissy fit and blew the fuck up.
I find this whole thing to be rather silly and I’m honestly not sure why it’s become such a big deal. You’d think he killed someone or said, I don’t know, that Chance the Rapper is a mediocre artist with a bad sense of personal style and a tired, exhausted aesthetic. Durant is a grown man and is free to do with his free time whatever he chooses. If that means he wants to sit at home and fire back at trolls and goblins at all hours of the night, so be it. He doesn’t owe Donovan, the Oklahoma City Thunder, the people of twitter dot come, a damn thing.
Here’s what—he’s flowered since he left the organization he disparaged. He’s become one of the most interesting men in the league, a man of calm candidness and a refreshing honesty. This slip up did nothing to damage that. Quite the contrary. After the mistake became public he owned up to it, apologized to those insulted in the tweet, called himself childish. The latter is incorrect, though one can understand relinquishing a bit of meat to the wolves. We become closer to people when we see them go through things that we could see happening to ourselves in another life. We empathize with that which REMINDS us OF us.
His was a classy response to the (minor) error and it is strange, frankly, that people have insisted on getting their jokes off rather than attempt to legitimately engage with this moment and figure out what it all means. Durant is a great basketball player, a transcendent one. He exercised his human right to work where he pleases and caught absolute, non-stop hell for it. People tweeted at him with reckless abandon, stabbing, shooting, suicide bombing their way into his mentions. They tell him he’s trash, a fucking clown, the death of the interesting. And so the man decides to defend himself. WHAT A WEIRDO, RIGHT?! WHAT A FUCKING LOSER! WHAT A GODDAMN ASS CLOWN WHO ENJOYS THE FEELING OF SHIT INSIDE HIS NOSE! HEY EVERYONE! COME AND DRAG THIS BUM WITH FEELINGS AS SOFT AS LAMBS!!!!
NOOOOOO!!!!! The humanity is dripping from him. It rains down from a cloud of understanding and reason that follows him, just above his head. It pools on the ground around him. He’s soaked in it.
We get in a tizzy, though, don’t we? We get mad because OH OH YEAH DURANT DIDN’T DEFEND HIMSELF IN THE WAY I WANT HIM TO AND SO BECAUSE OF THAT HE DESERVES TO DIE. We must do a full scale renovation of the way that we discuss athletes and sports both on the Internet and in the “real” world. Ours is a sad discourse at the moment, full of empty people trying to pretend that they are full of grace and dignity. Those that count themselves as angry over this, those that fancy themselves late night comedy monologue joke writers, have outed themselves as being blind, vapid, deadsouled. The world is a complex place, the heart and spirit even more so. Let us not pretend to be able to make fun of a man all because it mattered to him what we thought. If we continue this nonsense, if we maintain our lack of civility, then Trump will get re-elected.
Durant called himself childish, but let’s think about this. Who’s actually childish? The man who stood up for himself? Or the diaper wearing, pacifier sucking, rattle shaking fucks who insist on making fun of him for it?
Don’t laugh at a man for hurting. Laugh at the men who don’t.