**OFFICIAL NBA OFFSEASON THREAD - #ComeBackD12***

Which team will win the 2018-2019 NBA Championship?


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13,172
6,635
Joined Aug 7, 2012
feel bad for cousins man

all he wanted was his 7yo to attend his wedding, like was that to much to ask ??

she knew what she was doing smh hate to see it
 
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Kevin Durant’s New Headspace
ByJ.R. Moehringer
Sept. 10, 2019 8:37 am ET

“Some days I hate the NBA,” Kevin Durant says wearily.

He’s facedown on a padded table, wearing dark workout shorts, a weathered gray DMX T-shirt, a Washington ******** fleece draped over his shoulders. A physical therapist leans over him, wafting circulation-boosting lasers up and down his surgically repaired right calf.

“Some days I hate the circus of the NBA,” he says. “Some days I hate that the players let the NBA business, the fame that comes with the business, alter their minds about the game. Sometimes I don’t like being around the executives and politics that come with it. I hate that.”

Since June 10, when Durant crumpled to the floor with a ruptured Achilles, halting Game 5 of the NBA Finals and casting a pall over the rest of the series, it’s been The Question: Will the two-time Finals MVP, 2014 league MVP, four-time scoring leader, ever be the same? But listen to him for just a few minutes: He won’t. He’s already a different person.

The change is more than cosmetic, more than simply leaving the Golden State Warriors and signing a four-year $164 million deal with the Brooklyn Nets. It’s more than dropping his longtime number, 35, which possessed enormous symbolism. (A beloved youth coach and mentor was shot and killed at 35 years old.) The change feels elemental, as if Durant’s brush with basketball mortality made him see how fast it all might go away, how fast it will go away (he turns 31 this month), and it scared him, or matured him, or made him think.

And he was already a thinker. “I’ve always been on a search,” he says.

Producer Brian Grazer, a creative partner, says Durant is one of the most original, idiosyncratic minds you’re likely to meet in the world of sports. Grazer recalls a talk Durant gave at a Google retreat in Sicily. During the Q&A someone asked what made Durant so great. Coolly, Durant replied: “Paranoia.”

But all this is guesswork, and Durant hates the way people are forever guessing about his psyche, which is another reason he hates the NBA. So here’s another guess: Maybe he’s not changed, or not merely changed—maybe he’s also dead tired. He sounds tired, looks tired, with good reason. His 12-year NBA career has featured outsize doses of drama, scandal, injuries, gutting losses, fierce beefs, dramatic exits, emotional returns, burner accounts. Even his most devoted fans (Mom and Dad) say the ruptured Achilles and the yearlong layoff it will likely require might be a blessing.

In every sense of the word, the man needs to heal.

The healing starts here, in this $24 million neo-brutalist mansion nailed to the side of a cliff above Beverly Hills. Level with the tops of the Santa Monica Mountains, eye-to-eye with the raptors that surf the swirly updrafts, this will be the setting for Phase One of Durant’s rebuild.

In every sense of the word, the man needs to heal.

The healing starts here, in this $24 million neo-brutalist mansion nailed to the side of a cliff above Beverly Hills. Level with the tops of the Santa Monica Mountains, eye-to-eye with the raptors that surf the swirly updrafts, this will be the setting for Phase One of Durant’s rebuild.

In some ways the place is mega-normal, just another stately pleasure dome of superstardom (seven bedrooms, 12 bathrooms; rent: $90,000 a month). But at moments there’s a weird vibe. The house feels like a chrysalis, or a crypt, depending on your point of view, and not simply because the front door is a giant sliding slab of stone. Whatever comes next for Durant—a compromised skill set, a comeback for the ages—it will be determined largely by what happens within these concrete walls, inside these unaccountably dark rooms, and this inescapable truth can really throw off the feng shui. Even the man installing the special low-resistance treadmill in the living room looks a little tense.

Team Durant’s plan is for him to hole up here all summer, then transition to his new home in New York City soon after Labor Day. He’s flying east tonight to look at a few places. Friends have urged him to consider Manhattan, but Dumbo, he thinks, might be more his speed. He wants high ceilings, a sick view, proximity to the Nets practice gym. He lives for a gym, prides himself on rolling out of bed straight into practice. “I don’t wear matching clothes…I don’t wash my face, I don’t brush my hair. I just come in there and go to work.”

This morning, however, the only plan he cares about is the rehab plan. He’s laser focused on this laser. Somehow he even tunes out the blaring big-screen TV across the room. While his friends stretch out on big leather couches, watching White Boy Rick, discussing the plot twists, Durant stretches out on the table, subdued, quiet. This is the flip side of his hatred for the NBA: an almost pious devotion to the game itself and anything that can help him play it at the highest level.

“Without basketball,” he says flatly, “I wouldn’t have done much on earth.” Wouldn’t have traveled the world, or met politicians, entrepreneurs, moguls, rappers, each of whom adds to his store of knowledge and advances his search. “I wouldn’t have seen stuff that I’ve seen, compared to my friends I grew up with. Wouldn’t have gone to India. Or Hawaii.”

His words are suddenly punctuated by bone-shuddering gunshots in surround sound. Someone in White Boy Rick’s world is never going to Mumbai.

The physical therapist, Dave Hancock, cuts the laser, repositions Durant. He rubs around the eight-inch surgical scar on the back of Durant’s calf, kneading the soft tissue to increase blood flow and improve collagen formation. He then manipulates other muscles and tendons in the lower leg to keep them engaged and energized.

Next, Hancock slips Durant’s leg into a boot and sends him outside, into a walled backyard. On metal crutches that look like medieval jousting lances, Durant does a circuit, paces before an outdoor bar decorated with the logo of his new team. Just shy of 7 feet, without a shred of fat, he always traverses earth differently from other humans. (“You can feel his height,” Grazer says.) But with crutches and a boot, his halting-flowing stride is a jarring mix of fragility and athletic grace. Like a baby deer performing the Martha Graham technique.

After the gingerly constitutional it’s time to slide into the infinity pool for one-minute cardio bursts. The infinity pool overlooks…infinity. Durant, however, shows no interest in the view. After easing into the silver-blue water he begins kicking, paddling, maneuvering a rubber ball. When he flags, Hancock nudges. Again. The 45-minute regimen leaves them both gasping.

Hancock hands Durant a basketball (black, Nets logo) and tells him to shoot. The hoop is at the far end of the pool. Floating backward, standing flamingo-style, talking, not talking, looking, not looking, no matter: Swish. Swish. Swish.

Grazer says he once asked Durant what it’s like to choke in a big game. I’ve never choked, Durant said. Everyone chokes, Grazer said. “[Durant] says, ‘I will always shoot the ball—choking is not shooting the ball. If I miss, it’s not my fault. It’s the environment. Or someone else’s fault.’ At first that sounded arrogant. But if you think about it, it makes sense. Choking is not shooting.”

Cardio over, summer sun directly overhead, Durant moves into the dark coolness of the house. A chef brings him a plate. Crispy black cod, parsnip-and-potato purée, chanterelle mushrooms, roasted fennel, followed by crème brûlée topped with fresh whipped cream and sliced strawberries. Durant takes two bites, sets the plate aside. He burrows into the couch recently abandoned by his friends. He has only a short time to rest and regroup. This morning’s regimen will be followed by another this afternoon. Two sessions, every day except Sunday, all summer.

End of Part 1
 
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Another athlete might complain about the monotony, says Hancock, who’s worked privately with Odell Beckham Jr., David Beckham, Daniel Craig, U2. But Durant attacks it with an all-consuming fire, which Hancock calls the hallmark of an elite athlete.

In fact, for Durant, rehab began nanoseconds after the injury. He heard the tendon pop, felt the leg turn to lead, knew exactly what lay ahead. He stayed cool, collected, even back in the locker room, surrounded by teammates and executives looking like mourners at his wake. Only when doctors started talking blood clots and other bad outcomes did Durant’s mind go “to a crazy place.”

His phone went crazy too. Calls and texts from everywhere. (Barack Obama: Speedy recovery.) Among the first was his mother, Wanda Durant, whom he immortalized as “the real MVP” in his 2014 MVP acceptance speech. She was watching the game at home in Maryland, in the house Durant bought her. She stepped out of the room for a moment, and when she came back she saw her phone fluttering. Fifteen texts?

She looked at the first. It was from a friend. It just said: Oh no.

Frantic, she rewound the game, pressed pause, put her face close to the screen, looked deep into her son’s frozen eyes, trying to see how bad it was.

It was bad.

She cried when he answered the phone. He told her it was OK, because that’s what the son of a single mother says. She said she was on her way, she’d be on a plane that night. He said no. The next day would be soon enough.

She was at New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery 48 hours later, the last face he saw as they wheeled him into the operating room and one of the first he saw when he woke from the anesthesia. She then followed him to a suite at the Four Seasons, where she did all the things he couldn’t do for himself. “He was in the tub,” Wanda says, “and I was washing him, and we were talking, making sure his leg didn’t get wet and the bandage stayed dry, and he said: ‘Mom, it feels good to have you take care of me.’ And it just—”

She stops, overcome with emotion.

The moment was especially sweet because not long ago mother and son were on the outs. Wanda had been handling Durant’s financial affairs since he broke into the league, but in 2014 he decided to take control. It caused a rift, which took months, Durant says, to heal.

After several days Wanda went home, and Durant moved to a temporary apartment in SoHo. His father came. (Wayne Pratt wasn’t present for most of Durant’s childhood, but he’s now part of Durant’s small inner circle.) They ate vegetarian takeout, watched The Black Godfather, spent a whole afternoon together without once mentioning basketball, even though the NBA’s free agency period was days away. The basketball world was breathlessly waiting to hear which team Durant would choose, and Durant’s father was breathless too. But Durant was determined to keep his own counsel.

A far cry from three years ago, says Rich Kleiman, Durant’s manager, business partner and close friend. In the summer of 2016 he and Durant rented a palatial estate on Further Lane in the Hamptons and welcomed a procession of lobbying delegations from various teams, including a party of four stars from Golden State. This time around, shortly before the start of free agency, Kleiman met Durant for lunch at Cipriani, a chic restaurant in SoHo, and gave him one last overview of all the teams and all his options. Durant said: “All right. Well. I’m going with Brooklyn.” Just like that.

Kleiman was taken aback: For real? Yes, Durant said. End of discussion.

(Looking back on both free-agency crossroads, Kleiman laughs. “The Hamptons and Cipriani? How bougie can you get?”)

Durant says his decision-making process was as simple on the inside as it looked from the outside. Brooklyn was the right fit; he just knew. He didn’t even speak to the Nets before his decision, he says. He didn’t need a PowerPoint. He’s always felt big love as a visiting player at Barclays Center, he says, and he wondered what it might be like if he were on the home team. Plus, the Nets offered the opportunity to join his “best friend in the league,” Kyrie Irving.

Of course, Durant says, he was conflicted about leaving the Bay Area. “I came in there wanting to be part of a group, wanting to be part of a family, and definitely felt accepted,” he says. “But I’ll never be one of those guys. I didn’t get drafted there.… Steph Curry, obviously drafted there. Andre Iguodala, won the first Finals, first championship. Klay Thompson, drafted there. Draymond Green, drafted there. And the rest of the guys kind of rehabilitated their careers there. So me? ****, how you going to rehabilitate me? What you going to teach me? How can you alter anything in my basketball life? I got an MVP already. I got scoring titles.”

End of Part 2
 
6,839
1,092
Joined May 13, 2001
The fact that DBook has to play in Phoenix is a travesty. I absolutely love his game and think his potential is through the roof! Hopefully PHX gets desperate and decides to move him at somepoint for pics!
 
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Joined Feb 11, 2010
That he stood out, stood apart from the group, felt preordained.

“As time went on,” he says, “I started to realize I’m just different from the rest of the guys. 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.”

He scoffs at rumors that his public disagreement with Green, in the final moments of a game last November, was determinative. (Durant scolded Green for not passing him the ball; Green then berated Durant, repeatedly calling him a *****.) It was “a bull**** argument,” he says, “that meant nothing. Absolutely nothing. We were good before it. We were great.”

And great, he insists, after.

But there was also this: From a strictly competitive, strategic standpoint, Durant had come to fear that Golden State had hit a ceiling.

“The motion offense we run in Golden State, it only works to a certain point,” he says. “We can totally rely on only our system for maybe the first two rounds. Then the next two rounds we’re going to have to mix in individual play. We’ve got to throw teams off, because they’re smarter in that round of playoffs. So now I had to dive into my bag, deep, to create stuff on my own, off the dribble, isos, pick-and-rolls, more so than let the offense create my points for me.” He wanted to go someplace where he’d be free to hone that sort of improvisational game throughout the regular season.

His tenure in the Bay Area was great, he says, but because of media speculation, fan anxiety, “it didn’t feel as great as it could have been.”

His tenure in the Bay Area was great, he says, but because of media speculation, fan anxiety, “it didn’t feel as great as it could have been.”

A small detail, perhaps telling: He hasn’t been back to the Bay Area since June, since the injury, and he has no plans to return. His staff cleaned out his apartment in San Francisco, packed up the furniture, the memorabilia, including the MVP trophies that sat on the mantel. He doesn’t know when he’ll return again.

Meaningful? Merely logistical? People want to know. Desperately. Durant knows they want to know. Breakups represent change, and change represents death—naturally people obsess. Some still need clarity on Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt, the Beatles. What the hell did Yoko do?

Durant has a Ph.D. in this phenomenon. When he left the Oklahoma City Thunder for Golden State, reaction was intense. Overnight he went from icon to traitor. The memory still pains him.

“People coming to my house and spray-painting on the for sale signs around my neighborhood,” he recalls. “People making videos in front of my house and burning my jerseys and calling me all types of crazy names.”


The two-time NBA Finals MVP, 2014 League MVP and four-time scoring leader wears his number for the Brooklyn Nets. Nike jersey, $110, and shorts, $100, nike.com Photo: Mario Sorrenti for WSJ. Magazine, Styling by Sydney Rose Thomas

At his first game in Oklahoma City as a visitor—February 2017—fans yowled for blood and brandished cupcakes, because Durant was supposedly soft. “Such a venomous toxic feeling when I walked into that arena,” he says. “And just the organization, the trainers and equipment managers, those dudes is pissed off at me? Ain’t talking to me? I’m like, Yo, this is where we going with this? Because I left a team and went to play with another team?”

His mother recalls one particularly appalling piece of video: a Thunder fan firing bullets into a No. 35 jersey. Bullets—after she and Durant and half his extended family relocated to Oklahoma, after they embraced the community, after Durant gave a million dollars to tornado victims.

“I’ll never be attached to that city again because of that,” Durant says. “I eventually wanted to come back to that city and be part of that community and organization, but I don’t trust nobody there. That **** must have been fake, what they was doing. The organization, the GM, I ain’t talked to none of those people, even had a nice exchange with those people, since I left.”

End of Part 3
 
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Though fans in Toronto roared with pleasure and glee the moment he ruptured his Achilles, he doesn’t view that behavior in the same light. On the contrary, it tickled him. Torontonians knew he was playing the best basketball of his life. “They was terrified that I was on the floor,” he says, suppressing a smile. “You could feel it the second I walked out there.”

Does this same largesse extend to Toronto’s über booster, Drake, who trash-talked the Warriors and practically ran the floor on every fast break, thus irking half a continent? It does, it does. “That’s my brother. I view him as, like, blood.” If you get upset about how Drake roots for his hometown team, he adds, “You need to reevaluate yourself.”


Durant’s own clothing and jewelry, David Yurman chain, $3,500, David Yurman, 114 Prince Street, New York. . Hair, Eric Adams; grooming, Tasha Reiko Brown; manicure, Ashlie Johnson. Photo: Mario Sorrenti for WSJ. Magazine, Styling by Sydney Rose Thomas

No, what Durant doesn’t like, what unnerves him, is when raw hatred poses as fandom. “We talk about mental health a lot. We only talk about it when it comes to players. We need to talk about it when it comes to executives, media, fans.”

As with the ruptured Achilles, however, the bitter parting with Oklahoma City brought hidden boons. “It made me realize how big this whole **** is,” he says. The “****,” he says, is “the machine,” a great big invisible generator of narratives, programmed by the powers that be to gin up controversy, conflict, whatever keeps people dialed in. He’s learned—he’s learning—to free himself from the machine, to separate the game he loves from the noise and nonsense surrounding it.

Though he can sound stressed when discussing this stuff, though he can look downhearted, beard askew, doleful eyes fixed on the ground, Durant wants people to know he’s happy. More, he wants them to please for the love of God stop asking if he’s happy.

Maybe it’s a function of his introversion. Maybe it’s his resting facial expression, which is that of a man who just found a parking ticket on his windshield. Whatever the reason, observers often think Durant is bummed, or numb, when in fact he’s just pleasantly idling in neutral. “People are always like, Are you happy? It’s like, Yo, what the f— does that mean right now?… That was the whole thing this year: Is KD happy where he is?”

Such a highly personal question, he complains. More, an unanswerable question. And whenever he tries to answer it, earnestly, honestly, no one’s satisfied, which makes them unhappy, which then makes him unhappy.

Indeed, right after he announced his deal with Brooklyn, a typical story dominated one or two news cycles. Warriors execs, behind the scenes, supposedly saying Durant wasn’t happy enough after winning two titles: Nothing’s good enough for this guy.

False, Durant says. “It’s very rare in our lives when we envision and picture something and it comes together the perfect way you envision it. [Winning a title] was the only time in my life that happened, and that summer was the most exhilarating time. Every day I woke up I just felt so good about myself, so good about life.… That was a defining moment in my life—not just my basketball life.”

This is the one thing that doesn’t change about Durant. He still tries earnestly, honestly to correct the record, give real answers, put the truth out there. He doesn’t measure his words, doesn’t care if he says it wrong or contradicts himself. (Case in point: He’s spoken forgivingly about Oklahoma City in the past. But he’s not feeling that right now, and he’s not the least bit concerned if the paradox throws you.)

What matters more than continuity, more than happiness, more than titles—more than anything—is the search. Durant is one of the few NBA players who speaks of the game as a vehicle for gaining wisdom.

The rapper Q-Tip recently sent Durant an old black-and-white clip of Bruce Lee, which Durant devoured. Lee put it so beautifully, telling an interviewer about the secret of martial arts. “All types of knowledge,” Lee says, “ultimately mean self-knowledge.” The more you know about martial arts, the more you know about yourself, and the more you can then express yourself with your body—especially in “combat.” On any given night he has things to express. Angry things, scary things, joyful things, about his story.

He grew up in the roughest parts of Prince George’s County, Maryland. No money, no father. Lost a cherished aunt and a coach at a tender age. Lost friends to gun violence. Survived a bare, lonely two-room apartment, just his mom and brother, and now inhabits this ridiculous American schloss. Every step of that remarkable journey has left a mark, reshaped his soul. He wants to tell you how, wants to tell the world, and he does so with his beautiful game, a sui generis hybrid of length and strength, violence and accuracy and grace.

Laurene Powell Jobs, who helped Durant establish a multimillion-dollar program in Prince George’s County to help college-bound kids ready themselves—scholastically, emotionally, financially—says Durant is “a deeply integrated individual,” which makes him rare among all people, let alone celebrities. Integrated people, she says, “keep all the knowledge of their experience and bring it to their current awareness.… They use it as a source of knowledge, of power, and want to effect change that’s informed by their experience.”

If basketball isn’t available, Durant finds expression through other means. Photography, music, art. He dabbles, or dives deep, depending. But he’s discovered a true passion for business. He seeks out founders, leaders, CEOs and applies what he learns from them to the empire he’s building with Kleiman. Under the rubric of 35 Ventures—headquartered in New York City, staff of 15—they manage Durant’s lucrative endorsement deals, oversee an equity partnership with luxury audio company Master & Dynamic and create an eclectic investment portfolio (technology, hospitality, media) tailored to their shared interests.

They also generate a lot of content. Just this year they produced a documentary about the San Quentin Warriors, a hoops team inside the maximum security prison; launched a six-episode series on ESPN called The Boardroom about the business of sports, along with related digital shorts; and began filming a scripted show called Swagger, loosely based on Durant’s days playing youth basketball, with Grazer as a co-producer.

Through the Kevin Durant Charity Foundation they also help groups that take innovative approaches to fighting homelessness and easing hunger, and they do dazzling refurbishments of basketball courts in low-income neighborhoods around the world.

Above all, Durant expresses himself through social media. Instagram is one of his main portals to the world. It’s an introvert’s utopia, he says, a place to engage with people from a safe distance. Never mind the grief it’s caused him in the past. (In recent years, at times using fake accounts, he’s clashed with online critics, including at least one who still had a curfew.) He checks his direct messages twice daily, and though they number in the hundreds, he methodically works his way through, chatting with all sorts of folks about all sorts of subjects. Recently he conducted a two-week-long dialogue with a total stranger, a young man who detailed his many struggles and mental woes, ad nauseam, all of which Durant found fascinating.

He’ll also talk shop with anyone. The other day a middle school student reached out. “She’s like, I started to play at the free throw line, but I’m not very comfortable there, so I don’t really know what to do when I get inside the zone. It was such a nice-*** question. She blew my mind.”

He often parachutes into young people’s comments, doles out praise, congratulates them on a great game, a big win, “just encouraging them, letting them know they’re nice, and keep going. That **** does a lot for me. That’s why I like the Gram. A lot of young grass-roots basketball players, I build relationships through Instagram, so when we see each other it’s love.”

He recalls having a drink with E-40, rapper, philosopher, who claims authorship of several everyday phrases, including “You feel me?” E-40 made a toast: I’m not above you, I’m not below you—I’m right beside you. “I’m like, That’s the approach I take with everybody!”

Maybe that utopian vision of the world will now come true. Maybe Durant’s unfiltered dialogue with humanity will reach new levels of intimacy and respect and mutual understanding. Just as the injury changed Durant, or accelerated changes already in process, maybe it will alter public perception. The knocks—that he was soft, that introvert was a fancy word for selfish—seemed to evaporate the moment he gave up his body for Golden State. Starting Game 5 with a strained calf, risking and then incurring catastrophic injury, seemed to instantly restore the hero status he enjoyed early in his career.

Or maybe the machine has other plans for his narrative.

It’s almost time for the afternoon session with Hancock. First, though, a quick interview with a film crew making a documentary about basketball in Prince George’s County. Time suddenly seems like the infinity pool. No edges, no horizon. Talking about the past, working on the future, hobbled in an uncertain present.

Durant says he’s decided to wear No. 7 in Brooklyn because it stands for completion in the Bible. (God rested on the seventh day after creating Heaven and Earth.) Clearly the completion of his career is on his mind. In which case, what next?

Kids, he says, maybe.

How many?

He throws out numbers. Maybe five. Maybe one.

First he needs to find a woman who can handle this crazy life.

He used to think that wasn’t such a tall order. But, as with so many things, his thinking on that has evolved.

“I thought this life was pretty simple,” he says. “But it’s not as simple as I thought it was.”

END OF WSJ INTERVIEW
 
11,821
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Joined Oct 8, 2007
Great pics.

Honestly not surprised with half of the stuff KD said. He's just a very emotional guy, the way he plays on and off the court. I think a lot of players think the way he does but hide it for professional reasons. I hope he figures things out in Brooklyn cause his opinions will get the best of him there too.
 
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