The Kevin Durant-Stephen A. Smith feud appears to be back on.
The ESPN host went on a two-minute rant on Monday’s “First Take” bashing the idea of Durant making his return to the court during the Olympics. The sweet-shooting forward will miss this entire Nets season after rupturing his Achilles in the NBA Finals with the Warriors in June. The Nets signed Durant to a four-year, $164 million deal in July, along with Kyrie Irving.
“The Nets are paying him,” Smith fumed. “This is a superstar, a two-time champion, a league MVP that this game misses. All this talk about Kawhi [Leonard], LeBron [James], Giannis [Antetokounmpo] … I wish KD was out there. I’d guarantee you he’d be averaging 27 and seven. I guarantee you Brooklyn would be one of the top two teams in the Eastern Conference, if that brother was healthy.”
Durant’s business partner, Rich Kleiman, suggested that the star could return this summer before he ever steps on the court for the Nets.
“(Tokyo is) definitely a possibility,” Kleiman told the Washington Post. “He allowed his name to be in the group of finalists. But there are other benchmarks in front of him that are more important before he makes those decisions.”
Smith and Durant had feuded in the past, mostly over Durant’s decision to leave the Thunder for the Warriors. Durant has called Smith “a liar” and referenced his stories as “BS” in the past. However, Smith did appeared on Durant’s “The Boardroom,” which streams on ESPN+, in October. The thawing of hostilities between the two seem short-lived.
“I know KD don’t give a damn about what anyone thinks. He’s his own man, he’s going to do what he wants to do,” Smith said.
The normally reactive Durant has been quiet on Twitter since Feb. 22, at least on his official, non-burner account.
“I need you to be on the court for the people who are paying you…. Now you come back and the first time people see you is for Olympic basketball. How many damn gold medals do y’all need? Rich Kleiman, stop it,” Smith said.