When it comes to Kevin Durant’s play on the court, it can often be comparable to a superhero effort. And if you had to pinpoint which particular fearless crusader that was, perhaps the Hulk might fit the bill.
No, Durant won’t turn into a hulking green monster, but Monday’s 37 point effort showed that you don’t want to get the Nets superstar riled up or he will make you pay. Durant, who shot 15-for-23 against the Utah Jazz, took over the second half of the game and scored 22 points in the final 24 minutes.
But what was most noticeable throughout the night was Durant’s competitive spirit throughout the night. Durant wasn’t afraid to let the other side hear it after a big play.
The YES Network cameras caught Durant gesturing Utah’s Royce O’Neale that he was “too tiny” after he hit a fadeaway jumper in the first quarter. Later in the game, it appeared that someone on the Jazz bench said something to Durant.
KD tells Royce O'Neale "too tiny"
— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) March 21, 2022
He responded by hitting a pull-up jumper over Rudy Gay and looked as though he said something back to the Utah bench.
“Yeah, it’s fun. I think it’s just part of the game,” Durant said about the trash talk. “I think that’s the true essence of the game. That dialog that goes on around the court. We’ve all seen it playing in the blacktop and in the high school gyms. It’s like that conversation around the court is always fun and it’s just always a good vibe. So sometimes I like to indulge in that while I’m playing.”
Durant certainly indulged in it on Monday and it seemed that it added fuel to the fire for the Nets superstar, as well as the sellout crowd that was on hand at Barclays Center to see a big win for the Nets. The arena roared after some of Durant’s more impressive plays and the crowd chanted “M-V-P” when he stepped to the free-throw line.
“You can’t talk to him. I don’t know why people are talking to him,” Bruce Brown said. “Just don’t get him going. You don’t want to get him going.”
The win was an important one for the Nets as they try to work their way out of the play-in round in the little time that they have left in the regular season. Utah is one of the best teams in the West and now Brooklyn will have to face another top team in the West followed by the best team in the East in Memphis and Miami.
That’s sure to bring out the competitive spirit yet again in Durant, who will also have fellow superstar Kyrie Irving on the floor for both of those games.
“I enjoy playing, I enjoy other players that approach the game that way,” Durant said. “If that’s what gets you going then I appreciate it and I respect it. I approach it as I approach it. Sometimes I like trash talk, sometimes I like to be silent out there. It just depends on my mood and how I feel throughout a game, but I’m prepared for anything.”
Durant’s trash-talking abilities and the fuel he gets from it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, especially after Draymond Green labeled him one of the best trash talkers in the league in December on his podcast.
“I think you started to realize it now the more he talks on Twitter or the more he’s caught saying stuff to fans in the stands, KD,” Green said. “I’ve always told people that KD is one of the biggest trash-talkers to me since I came into the league. And it would be like disrespectful stuff. Like, ‘ay who is this?’ KD would turn the dude around trying to look at the back of his jersey. Like, see his name on the back.”