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Thursday, February 07, 2019

The Truth About Kevin Durant's Rant

Last night, Kevin Durant's post-game press conference primarily consisted of an anti-media rant, with the two primary themes being (1) he does not trust the media to provide accurate coverage and (2) he does not see how talking to the media will help him do his job better.

Durant is right regarding point one. When I covered NBA games on a regular basis, I witnessed reporters who would go to one locker room, ask a leading question to a player and then go to the other locker room and tell a player, "Player A said X, Y, Z. What do you think of that?" The reporter did not tell the second player that the first player's comments--usually paraphrased to change the meaning--were not just a random statement but were in fact an answer to a question from that reporter!

Other reporters asked questions that betrayed complete ignorance of the NBA game and/or had no meaningful connection to anything that is relevant.

Not all reporters and media members are deceptive and/or incompetent but many of them are; they create "news" instead of reporting facts.

If I were Durant, I would not want to talk to them, either.

As a competent journalist, I often found that I had to overcome the default assumption by players/coaches/scouts that media members do not know what they are doing or, even worse, that media members have a negative agenda. Only after I proved that I know my stuff and that I was working on a legitimate project would they open up.

Regarding point two, Durant is correct that talking to the media will not help him play basketball better. Unfortunately for Durant and other NBA players, part of their job is dealing with the media, because the media provide access for the fans. Without TV and internet coverage, the players would not make the salaries that they make.

Durant has justifiable complaints but instead of ranting he should simply be careful and reserved with the answers that he gives and he should only provide in depth responses to media members who have proven their competence, ethics and reliability.

I interviewed Durant early during his second year and he unhesitatingly provided thoughtful answers to my questions. Sadly, if I were to approach him today he probably would not want to be interviewed at all, unless he happened to remember me from more than 10 years ago.

Some media members do a great job. It is always informative and entertaining to listen to Frank Isola on Sirius XM NBA Radio's morning show during the week; Eddie Johnson provides a great ex-player's perspective on that same channel during a different show. Other media members are outstanding as well, including Roland Lazenby, the longtime Lindy's Pro Basketball editor who has written definitive biographies of Jerry West, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. Unfortunately, the media members who do a poor job make it more difficult for the competent media members to get access and continue to do their work.

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posted by David Friedman @ 9:01 PM



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