The fire still burns in Kevin Durant as never before.
That hasn’t always been a good thing this season for the Golden State Warriors All-Star forward, who surprisingly ranks among the league leaders in ejections with 14, dangerously close to the automatic suspension that comes with two more violations. Prior to this season, Durant had just one ejection over his first 10 years in the league.
Durant will tell you all the newfound emotion he’s now displaying is for the best of reasons.
“It’s just my emotions and passion for the game,” he told ESPN. “After winning that championship (last season), I learned that much hadn’t changed. I thought it would fill a certain [void]. It didn’t. That’s when I realized in the offseason that the only thing that matters is this game and how much work you put into it. Everything else off the court, social media, perception, isn’t important. What people say, how they view you, it’s not important.”
But Durant is central to the Warriors having any chance of doing the one thing he insists matters most to both of them. And as such, he knows he has to do a better job of controlling his emotions, especially with the postseason now so close.
“What we did as a team was special, and I want to experience that again,” Durant said. “My love and passion for the game has [blossomed] because I understand that’s what it’s all about, and I’m pouring all of this [newfound thirst] into this game. But I know I have to keep [my fire] under control, and I will.”
The latest outburst came on Durant’s first night back after missing six straight games with a rib injury. Durant was tossed in the Warriors 116-107 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks after he drove the lane, thought he was hacked, and no foul was called.
“I deserved that ejection,” Durant told ESPN of his no-holds-barred reaction. “He did the right thing.”
What’s just as certain is with All-Star running mate Steph Curry still sidelined with an MCL sprain and the Warriors having lost seven of 10 and three in a row, nerves are suddenly frayed in Golden State.
“I’ll be good,” Durant assured. “We’re trying to win another championship. That’s why we’re playing. Everything will be fine. I love this game, and I’m going to do whatever I can to help my team get back to where we were last year. That’s what I’m excited for. That’s why you’re seeing this passion from me. Before, I used to care about the game and the lifestyle. Now, all I care about is my love for the game, the pureness of the game. This is me.”