Warriors' Steve Kerr: Kevin Durant Dealt With A Lot of Stress From Constant Criticism

Adam WellsJune 22, 2021

FILE - In this Nov. 23, 2016, file photo, Golden State Warriors' Kevin Durant, left, talks with coach Steve Kerr during the team's NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers in Oakland, Calif. Durant wonโ€™t play later Saturday, April 22, in Game 3 against the Portland Trail Blazers because of a strained left calf. The Warriors will also be without Kerr because of an illness. Mike Brown will serve as acting coach. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr believes Kevin Durant was under a lot of stress during his three seasons with the organization due to constant criticism from outside sources. 

In Matt Sullivan's book Can't Knock The Hustle, Kerr said that in the 2018-19 season in particular, you "could see the strain on (Durant's) face every day" he came to work: 

"But it was, really, he was staring into that phone all the time. ... The way you handle the backlash kind of determines your fate, so, on the court, he couldn't have handled backlash any better. But in this modern life, itโ€™s easy to get caught up in all the other stuff, and I thought that put a lot of stress on Kevin, just feeling that constant criticism."

Durant's decision to sign with the Warriors in July 2016 after spending the first nine years of his career with the Seattle SuperSonics/Oklahoma City Thunder sparked immediate backlash. 

Sports Illustrated's Michael Rosenberg wrote at the time that Durant "pulled the ultimate bandwagon move" and "took the easiest possible way" to win a championship. 

During a September appearance on The Old Man and The Three podcast, Durant disputed the notion that he took an easy path to a title with Golden State:

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

KD says he earned those championships in Golden State and that he was never intrigued by the Knicks hype. pic.twitter.com/0KzEr5CYHd

The Warriors won 73 games in 2015-16 and defeated Durant's Thunder in the 2016 Western Conference Finals by erasing a 3-1 series deficit to reach the NBA Finals. 

Durant led Golden State to the NBA Finals in each of his three seasons with the team, including back-to-back titles in 2016-17 and 2017-18. 

Heading into free agency in the summer of 2019, Ric Bucher reported for B/R that Durant was "not happy" with Golden State over "whatever role Warriors officials played in his decision to suit up" for Game 6 of the NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors when he ruptured his Achilles. 

Durant decided to team up with Kyrie Irving and sign with the Brooklyn Nets. The 11-time All-Star sat out the 2019-20 season recovering from surgery on his Achilles. 

Returning to the court for the 2020-21 campaign, Durant averaged 26.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game during the regular season. The Nets were eliminated from the playoffs in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals with a 115-111 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.