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Stephen A. Smith: Kevin Durant 'Was Not Feeling Steve Kerr, at All' on Warriors

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 18, 2019

SHENZHEN, CHINA - OCTOBER 05:  Head coach Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors speaks to Kevin Durant #35 during the game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Golden State Warriors as part of 2017 NBA Global Games China at Universidade Center on October 5, 2017 in Shenzhen, China.  (Photo by Zhong Zhi/Getty Images)
Zhong Zhi/Getty Images

Stephen A. Smith shed more light on the apparent dynamic between Kevin Durant and Steve Kerr, painting the picture of a somewhat fraught relationship. 

During an appearance Wednesday on First Take, Smith said there wasn't an inciting incident that soured Durant on Kerr, but the 10-time All-Star simply "was not feeling" the Golden State Warriors head coach. Smith added Kerr's failure to bridge the divide with Durant "had something to do with Kevin Durant and the relationship with the team as a whole":

This wouldn't be the first time Durant had friction with a head coach.

Thinking he was using a burner account, Durant famously tweeted in third person in September 2017 he "didn't like the [Oklahoma City Thunder] or playing for Billy Donovan."

Following his move to the Brooklyn Nets, Durant was open about his struggle to mesh with the Warriors.

"As time went on, I started to realize I'm just different from the rest of the guys," he said to WSJ. Magazine's J.R. Moehringer. "It's not a bad thing. Just my circumstances and how I came up in the league. And on top of that, the media always looked at it like KD and the Warriors. So it's like nobody could get a full acceptance of me there."

This isn't the first time Smith referenced some sort of rift between Durant and Kerr. He reported in July that Durant "wasn't too fond of Steve Kerr at all," without providing more specifics:

Durant's frustration with Kerr may have stemmed somewhat from the Warriors offense, a topic he discussed with Moehringer. He contended the motion style "only works to a certain point" and that Kerr needed to give the players more freedom deeper into the postseason.

Newsday's Steve Popper also reported in May that Durant "has been unhappy with the prodding from Steve Kerr" and his internal belief he'd always be the 1B to Stephen Curry's 1A in Golden State.

If nothing else, Smith's report and Durant's comments reinforced why everyone was so skeptical about whether Durant would work long term in the Bay Area.

Nobody would argue his Warriors tenure was a failure. He won two NBA titles and two Finals MVPs, and he likely would've had three rings were it not for his Achilles injury in last year's playoffs.

Eventually, however, fitting Durant into the team's more egalitarian approach was going to be difficult—if not impossible. In addition, he'd never have the spotlight in the way Curry does since Steph is the player most synonymous with this era of Warriors basketball.

The fact the Warriors reached three straight Finals with Durant arguably speaks to Kerr's strengths as a coach.

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