On Saturday, Kevin Durant will return to Oklahoma City for the first time since joining the Warriors. It won’t be just about basketball for him — as he admits on the latest episode of The Bill Simmons Podcast, he’ll have to grapple with returning to the place that was his home for eight years. Bill and KD also discussed LeBron’s 2010 Decision, why Durant’s Twitter shot was actually an innocent mistake, and how Dion Waiters operates.
Listen to the full podcast here. This transcript has been edited and condensed.
Returning to OKC Won’t Be Easy
Bill Simmons: It’s got to be emotional.
Kevin Durant: I wouldn’t be human if I sat here and just acted like I’m this super tough Teflon, [like] nothing gets to me, man. That’s what NBA players got to stop doing, man. You’re not that tough. You’re human at the end of the day. Your ego is that big for you to feel like you’re not human? I understand there’s going to be emotion in me. It’s going to be emotional seeing those people, it’s going to be emotional walking to another locker room when I used to walk past it every game.
Simmons: I would imagine that’s the weirdest thing, right?
Durant: I’ve never been in the opposing locker room. So I walk in there as another player? I’ve walked past it so many times, it’s going to be weird. I just want to see the people that I walked through that hallway to see every game. I can’t wait to see some of the season-ticket holders on the front row that I got to know [and] some of the people in the stands even though I understand what may happen. I’m still going to reach out and be cordial and let them know that I miss them at least. I miss them and it’s really good to see them. That’s just, that’s just a real-life part of what I’m doing right now. Just to see the people that I got to know over that time.
Simmons: Every face you see is going to trigger some sort of memory you have from the last 10 years.
Durant: It is! I spent a lot of time there, man. … That’s why I think they were so upset. I was a regular guy to them. I wasn’t like "Kevin Durant." I got my quotation marks with my fingers. I was a real guy to them, they feel like they could talk to me. Man, I know so much about these people’s families.
Simmons: Yeah, but that’s all genuine, though. It’s not like that is now a fake thing.
Durant: It’s real! Yeah, where’s it gone? It hasn’t gone anywhere. I don’t forget about it. John, who works in the tunnel as I was running out to the court every game — I still know you. You’re still my guy. Ms. Betty that worked right by the locker room, I know all about you, you know all about me. It will be cool to see them again.
Durant Understands LeBron’s 2010 ‘Decision’
Simmons: People have asked me why I wasn’t harder on you for jumping to Golden State, whereas I was really hard on how LeBron handled The Decision.
Durant: Why were you?
Simmons: I don’t think he should have done it on a TV special, I thought that was mean to the fans. I think if you love a team, and you’ve followed this guy for years and years, and now he’s basically breaking up with you on the special. I just think there’s better ways to handle it.
Durant: I understand that. But at the same time, at some point you got to take yourself out of it. You got to know that he’s not trying to purposely do anything malicious.
Simmons: I know, but you get how people would see that’s hurtful.
Durant: I get how people see that, I understand that part. But you out of all people I wouldn’t think would be like that.
Simmons: Well, I didn’t like that he did it that way. I just thought it was tacky, especially since he was from Ohio. The other thing is I just thought he handled the last few months, like Boston beat them in the playoffs.
Durant: He didn’t handle it the way that you wanted him to handle it.
Simmons: Yeah, I think that’s it, which is a bad reason, right?
Durant: But you don’t matter.
Simmons: I know
Durant: Simple as that.
Simmons: You finished your OKC stint and you had a great last series against Golden State, right? Took ’em to the brink. Gave ’em everything you had. LeBron had a really weird last series. The whole thing didn’t sit right.
Durant: Who cares? What did he do for that city, that team, all the time that he was there? He did everything he could.
Simmons: For some reason the way you did it made more sense to me. Because I took it as, you were in a place for a long time, you hit a certain point in your life, in your late 20s, and you wanted a life change. You wanted to just play a different style and live in a different city and have different experiences.
Durant: Kill me for it. That’s what everybody wants to do now.
Simmons: But maybe I should have felt that way about LeBron, maybe he [just] wanted a different experience in Miami.
Durant: Yes! He did! Kill him for it! What do you want to do? What do you want him to do? You want him to do exactly what you want him to do.
Simmons: I wanted him to do what I wanted him to do. I wanted him to stay in Cleveland.
Durant: But is it your life?
Simmons: Actually what I wanted him to do was go to New York. I thought that was the ballsiest move.
Durant: Yeah, but you wanted him to do what you wanted him to do.
Durant: But is it your life? Do you got to live it? And I realized that when I made this decision. Because when LeBron made that decision, I was like, "Man, I wonder why he did that."
Durant’s 2010 Shot at LeBron Was a Misunderstanding
Simmons: You took a shot at him on Twitter, didn’t you?
Durant: Let me clear this up, because a lot of people talk to me about [it and say] "I took a shot at him on Twitter." If you go back and look at when I posted that, I posted that later in the month, you want to know why?
Penny Hardaway came out and said, "I would love to play for the Heat, I think I could help them win the championship." And I’m like, "Come on, Penny. You’ve been out of the game. I played against you my rookie year, it’s like three years later, man. What are you doing?" But it was a fake article. So I tweeted that. And now everybody’s like, "Well, you was criticizing LeBron." I signed an extension right after LeBron decided to go to Miami and a lot of people asked me about that, I said, "Cool, for [the Heat]. We play them three times, I can’t wait to play them, it’s going to be cool."
I didn’t criticize him, I was criticizing Penny Hardaway in this fake article I read. So a lot of people took that and ran with it.
Plus, Durant Explains Waiters Island
Rich Kleiman, Durant’s agent: Who came up with Waiters Island? You did?
Simmons: I can’t remember. One of us came up with it, but it became a Grantland thing, Waiters Island.
Durant: That’s hilarious.
Simmons: [Dion] Waiters was a very polarizing player, but I was always his last defender. So it was always like me and Zach [Lowe] and a couple of others were the last five on Waiters Island.
Kleiman: We’re two defenders of Dion. I’m on Waiters Island.
Durant: I’m on Waiters Island.
Simmons: We had a piece on The Ringer this week about the resurgence of Waiters Island, because he’s been hot in Miami.
Durant: Pay the man, [the Heat] have won 12 in a row.
Right before they went on the run, I [told Dion], "Man, y’all struggling right now." He’s like, "Oh, man, we’re about to go on a run." I was like, "OK, we’ll see." And they fucking win 12 in a row! I’m like, "Dion is a prophet."
Simmons: Before the podcast we were talking about Game 7 when you look around and it’s like gut-check time and it’s like going to war, who’s ready for it. Waiters is one of those guys, he doesn’t give a shit. He’s like, "Oh, it’s Game 7? Fine. I’m ready."
Durant: One thing about Dion, I took him under my wing early. He truly, sincerely thinks he’s the best player in the league.
Simmons: It’s the best, he’s the all-time irrational confidence guy we’ve had in the last 15 years. He really does believe it, he thinks he’s the best guy on the court.
Durant: And then I hate him for it too sometimes. I’m like, "Yo, Dion, relax. You’re not going to get the ball every play, relax." And he’s like, "Yo! I just want to make a play, you know I can!" And I’m like, "You right, you can, but relax." You’ve got to love him for it, man.
Simmons: There’s a lot of good quick GIFs on the internet of him with his hand up.
Durant: Calling for the ball?
Simmons: Hopping up and down like a little kid.
Durant: You got to realize you’re not even the second option, bro.