Cole Cashwell wasn’t asking for much for his birthday. Just a conversation. On Sunday night, he was bored and wanted to see if Kevin Durant, he of a championship ring and 16.9 million Twitter followers, would answer his question.
So, he tweeted at him.
@KDTrey5 man I respect the hell outta you but give me one legitimate reason for leaving okc other than getting a championship— dis alot (@ColeCashwell) September 18, 2017
“It was a spur-of-the-moment kind of thing,” Cashwell told me via direct message. “I wasn’t expecting him to reply. I wasn’t expecting it to blow up. My mentions have been crazy.”
To his—and, presumably, KD’s—surprise, Cashwell got a response from Durant’s official account.
“He didn’t like the organization or playing for Billy Donovan. His roster wasn’t that good, it was just him and Russ.”
“Imagine taking Russ off that team, see how bad they were. Kd can’t win a championship with those cats.”
The tweets, written as if they were coming from someone other than KD, were deleted, but not before Cashwell and other Twitter users could screenshot them. Quickly, sleuths across the interwebs were on the case. “Does KD have fake accounts to defend himself?” the world pondered.
On Sunday night, Cashwell told me he thought it would be great if KD came out and said it was him who tweeted out those things, and that it was just a mistake. On Tuesday, at a TechCrunch event in San Francisco, Durant (basically) did just that.
“I have another Instagram account, but that’s just for my friends and family,” he said at the event. “So, I wouldn’t say that I was using it to clap back at anyone. I use Twitter to engage with fans. I think it’s a great way to engage with basketball fans. I happened to take it a little too far. That’s what happens sometimes when I get into these basketball debates about what I really love, to play basketball. I don’t regret clapping back at anybody or talking to my fans on Twitter. I do regret using my former coach’s name and the former organization that I played for. That was childish. That was idiotic, all those type of words. I regret doing that, and I apologize for doing that.”
Durant’s Twitter replies have become a thing of legend this summer. He’s had a quick trigger to any slight, and he’s been open to responding to compliments or just general statements about him. The raw honesty has helped make the former MVP seem more approachable. Copping to the tweets only feeds into the identity-shift he’s undergone since leaving Oklahoma City for Golden State last summer: Durant is just chill.
KD has a tech issue the day before his @TechCrunch panel. Great PR move. Light years.— Jordan Ramirez (@JRAM_91) September 19, 2017
This whole thing is bizarre and a bit shocking, but that’s only because what he said—both in the tweets and now in fessing up to them—is so honest. Sure, Durant threw some barbs at his old team, but, I mean, we did just see how Westbrook needed to have a historic statistical season in order to get the Thunder into the playoffs. And, sure, using a fake account to clap back is a weird move for a superstar who has shown no hesitation to spar with followers publicly before. But it underlines something very human: He cares what people say about him—almost too much.
“I don’t think I’ll ever stop engaging with fans,” Durant said. “I think they really enjoy it, and I think it’s a good way to connect with y’all. But I’ll scale back a little right now and just focus on playing basketball.”
Durant’s entire offseason has been a giant shrug emoji. And, oddly enough, at the same time he’s showing us more of himself than perhaps ever before.