Kevin Durant: 'I don’t really care what people think about me ... I feel like I have all the power now'

LAS VEGAS — Kevin Durant sliced through the tape on his ankles after USA Basketball’s minicamp practice Thursday, with a calm demeanor and a smile on his face. Durant has been a presence in Team USA’s summer events over the years, from the offseason of his decision to sign with the Golden State Warriors to now as a two-time NBA champion and two-time Finals MVP. From making clear he never promised anything to Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2016, to a public back-and-forth with Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J.McCollum this week, Durant still shows his face in the summer heat.

Durant has listened to the criticism of his move to the Warriors from the moment he made the decision on that Fourth of July. He responded to some last summer, fresh off one championship, and this summer has been a canvas for another barrage. He’s read social-media posters saying he should simply keep his mouth shut, and Durant laughed Thursday inside UNLV’s Mendenhall Center while delving into it all.

“I should shut the [expletive] up, right?” Durant told Yahoo Sports. “Man, get out the way. I done did the work, I done showed you what I do. I know y’all don’t like me, but get out the way and let this [expletive] roll. I ain’t want no smoke with nobody. I ain’t want no problems with nobody. It’s everybody’s sentiments, like, ‘Yo, shut up, K.D.’ I’m not talking, I’m just being me. Everybody’s just acting crazy.

“I see guys voicing their opinions on social media, and I’ve always been part of social media, always interacting with fans of basketball and people that I know. I enjoy that [expletive]. All of this is part of the game for me. Of course, I’m on my Instagram, on Twitter, just like the rest of my peers. So what’s the problem if I got something to say? It’s just because I do it.”

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NBA stars at USA Basketball men’s national team practice
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NBA stars at USA Basketball men’s national team practice
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 26: Victor Oladipo #55 and Kyrie Irving #37 of the United States talk during a practice session at the 2018 USA Basketball Men's National Team minicamp at the Mendenhall Center at UNLV on July 26, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 26: DeMar DeRozan #35 of the United States is interviewed after a practice session at the 2018 USA Basketball Men's National Team minicamp at the Mendenhall Center at UNLV on July 26, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 26: Russell Westbrook #24 of the United States attends a practice session at the 2018 USA Basketball Men's National Team minicamp at the Mendenhall Center at UNLV on July 26, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 26: Paul George #39 of the United States shoots during a practice session at the 2018 USA Basketball Men's National Team minicamp at the Mendenhall Center at UNLV on July 26, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 26: Russell Westbrook #24 and Blake Griffin #40 of the United States talk during a practice session at the 2018 USA Basketball Men's National Team minicamp at the Mendenhall Center at UNLV on July 26, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 26: Paul George #39 of the United States shoots during a practice session at the 2018 USA Basketball Men's National Team minicamp at the Mendenhall Center at UNLV on July 26, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 26: Kyrie Irving #37 of the United States watches a practice session at the 2018 USA Basketball Men's National Team minicamp at the Mendenhall Center at UNLV on July 26, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 26: James Harden #47 of the United States shoots during a practice session at the 2018 USA Basketball Men's National Team minicamp at the Mendenhall Center at UNLV on July 26, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 26: Kevin Love (L) #58 talks with Kyrie Irving #37 of the United States during a practice session at the 2018 USA Basketball Men's National Team minicamp at the Mendenhall Center at UNLV on July 26, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 26: Devin Booker #31 of the United States shoots during a practice session at the 2018 USA Basketball Men's National Team minicamp at the Mendenhall Center at UNLV on July 26, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 26: Kevin Durant #52 of the United States is interviewed during a practice session at the 2018 USA Basketball Men's National Team minicamp at the Mendenhall Center at UNLV on July 26, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 26: (L-R) Victor Oladipo #55, Kyrie Irving #37 and Russell Westbrook #24 of the United States joke around during a practice session at the 2018 USA Basketball Men's National Team minicamp at the Mendenhall Center at UNLV on July 26, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 26: Kyrie Irving #37 and Russell Westbrook #24 of the United States joke around during a practice session at the 2018 USA Basketball Men's National Team minicamp at the Mendenhall Center at UNLV on July 26, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 26: Head coach Gregg Popovich of the United States works with DeMar DeRozan #35 during a practice session at the 2018 USA Basketball Men's National Team minicamp at the Mendenhall Center at UNLV on July 26, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 26: Blake Griffin #40 of the United States smiles during a practice session at the 2018 USA Basketball Men's National Team minicamp at the Mendenhall Center at UNLV on July 26, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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Durant accomplished exactly what was required after leaving Oklahoma City and yet remains the ultimate lightning rod around the league and around social media. He was the lone representative for the Warriors at Team USA minicamp, with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green not attending and DeMarcus Cousins only appearing for the team meeting Wednesday night. Durant was ready and able to take questions about his past 18 hours, which started when McCollum had questioned the Warriors’ signing of Durant to his face, and Durant — who calls McCollum a “tight friend” — told McCollum to relax, jokingly. McCollum then proceeded to take another shot at Durant for his 2016 decision. Everyone swiftly bashed Durant and he had to respond to it all, but the nine-time All-Star and 2014 NBA MVP shouldn’t need to justify himself to McCollum.

He’s walked hotel lobbies in Las Vegas this week, talking smack with fans. For Durant, McCollum is no different. For anyone calling him sensitive, Durant simply states he is now unafraid to speak his mind. Hate it or love it.

“I don’t mind a random person coming up to me in the Encore hotel who wants to talk [expletive] about ball,” Durant told Yahoo Sports. “Whoever enjoys the game as much as me, I don’t mind. I’m down for that. When I’m on my phone in the middle and in between practices, of course, I’m going to respond. Now I’m just like, I don’t really care what people think about me, the names people call me. I know every time I say something, people are going to get upset at me. So I feel like I have all the power now. I can make so many people upset by just speaking my mind and speaking my truths, being transparent with everyone.

“It’ll get all these random people coming on national TV to project their feelings onto me. It’s pretty funny actually. I know what’s important. In between those lines, people aren’t going to step in between them. Really, how are the words of those people more valid than mine?

“Me and C.J. are tight. We talk on the phone all the time about little [expletive] like that. It was a friendly jab, and everyone ran with it. But I can’t get into [expletive] like that with other players because people just don’t like me at this point. It won’t stop me. It’ll fuel me to be better and better. I know you think I’m sensitive, but I’m just tired of holding it in.”

32 PHOTOS
Kevin Durant through the years
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Kevin Durant through the years
University of Texas' Kevin Durant watches as a Texas A&M University player takes a free throw during the first half of their NCAA basketball game in Austin, Texas, February 28, 2007. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi (UNITED STATES)
Kevin Durant of the University of Texas kisses his mother after being selected as the second overall pick by the Seattle Supersonics at the 2007 NBA Draft at Madison Square Garden in New York June 28, 2007. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (UNITED STATES)
Seattle Supersonics Kevin Durant reacts during their NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles November 27, 2007. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES)
Seattle Supersonics Kevin Durant (R) fights for a rebound with Los Angeles Lakers Ronny Turiaf during their NBA basketball game in Los Angeles March 21, 2008. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES)
NBA Rookie of the Year Kevin Durant of the Seattle SuperSonics attends a news conference in Taipei July 26, 2008. Durant will visit Taiwan's Asian Youth Basketball national team training camp during his tour of Taiwan. REUTERS/Pichi Chuang (TAIWAN)
Sophomore's Kevin Durant from the Oklahoma City Thunder holds up his MVP trophy after the Rookie Challenge at the NBA All-Star basketball weekend in Phoenix, Arizona, February 13, 2009. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi (UNITED STATES)
Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant reacts during the second half of Game 2 of their NBA Western Conference playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles, April 20, 2010. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant, (R) hugs teammate Russell Westbrook (0) in celebration late in the fourth quarter against the Lost Angeles Lakers during Game 3 of their NBA Western Conference playoff series in Oklahoma City, April 22, 2010. REUTERS/Bill Waugh (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Kevin Durant of the U.S. looks at Hamed Ehadadi (L) from Iran during their FIBA Basketball World Championship game in Istanbul, September 1, 2010. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes (TURKEY - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant sits on the bench in the first half against the Dallas Mavericks during Game 1 of the NBA Western Conference Final basketball playoff in Dallas, Texas May 17, 2011. REUTERS/Tim Sharp (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant dunks the ball against the Dallas Mavericks during the second half of their NBA basketball game in Dallas, Texas January 2, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Stone (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant celebrates in the second half against the San Antonio Spurs during Game 3 of the NBA Western Conference basketball finals in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, May 31, 2012 REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant attends a news conference held for the NBA Finals in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma June 13, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Stone (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (R) shoots over Miami Heat forward Shane Battier in the second quarter during Game 4 of the NBA basketball finals in Miami, Florida, June 19, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
LeBron James (R) of the Miami Heat speaks as Kevin Durant (L) and Kobe Bryant listen during a news conference for the twelve players selected for the 2012 U.S. Olympic men's basketball team at the Wynn Las Vegas Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada July 7, 2012. REUTERS/Steve Marcus (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL OLYMPICS)
Lebron James (L) and Kevin Durant of the U.S. pose with their gold medals during victory ceremony at the North Greenwich Arena during the London 2012 Olympic Games August 12, 2012. REUTERS/Sergio Perez (BRITAIN - Tags: OLYMPICS SPORT BASKETBALL)
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (C) shoots against Portland Trail Blazers Nicolas Batum (L) of France, and LaMarcus Aldridge (R) in the first half of their NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma March 24, 2013. REUTERS/Bill Waugh (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
May 7, 2014; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) is awarded the NBA Most Valuable Player award prior to action against the Los Angeles Clippers in game two of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 25, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) celebrates scoring during the first quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
May 6, 2014; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Scott Brooks speaks about how deserving Kevin Durant is of the 2013-2014 MVP award at Thunder Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
NBA basketball player Kevin Durant accepts the Best Male Athlete Award during the inaugural 2014 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Sports awards at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles, California July 17, 2014. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT SPORT BASKETBALL PROFILE)
Dec 23, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) moves to the basket against Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant (24) during the 2nd quarter at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters Picture Supplied by Action Images (TAGS: Sport Basketball NBA) *** Local Caption *** 2015-12-24T044552Z_1591095791_NOCID_RTRMADP_3_NBA-OKLAHOMA-CITY-THUNDER-AT-LOS-ANGELES-LAKERS.JPG
Professional basketball player Kevin Durant speaks to the media during a Nike unveiling event in New York, March 17, 2016. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
May 30, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30, right) is congratulated by Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) after game seven of the Western conference finals of the NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Thunder 96-88. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Jul 7, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Kevin Durant poses for a photo with his jersey during a press conference after signing with the Golden State Warriors at the Warriors Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
2016 Rio Olympics - Basketball - Preliminary - Men's Preliminary Round Group A USA v Venezuela - Carioca Arena 1 - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 08/08/2016. Deandre Jordan (USA) of the USA and Kevin Durant (USA) of the USA. REUTERS/Jim Young FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.
2016 Rio Olympics - Basketball - Final - Men's Gold Medal Game Serbia v USA - Carioca Arena 1 - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 21/8/2016. Kevin Durant (USA) of the USA celebrates during the game. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.
2016 Rio Olympics - Basketball - Final - Men's Gold Medal Game Serbia v USA - Carioca Arena 1 - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 21/8/2016. Jimmy Butler (USA) of the USA (L), Kevin Durant (USA) of the USA and Deandre Jordan (USA) of the USA (R) stand with their gold medals for the playing of the U.S. National Anthem during the presentation ceremony for men's basketball. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.
Apr 22, 2017; Portland, OR, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) smiles while sitting on the bench during warm-ups before game three of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 7, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) shoots as Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) guards during the first quarter in game three of the 2017 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 12, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) celebrates with the Larry O'Brien Trophy after beating the Cleveland Cavaliers in game five of the 2017 NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Nov 18, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) reacts in the direction of fans after being fouled during the second half against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
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Soon, Durant will return to the pressures of defending the Warriors’ back-to-back championships. Durant signed a two-year, $61.5 million maximum deal, with a player option for 2019-20. These Warriors will return as favorites, and Durant understands the judgment his one-plus-one contract will cast. For Durant, the decision to sign for another one-plus-one deal leaves open his financial and team options.

“I just want to take it a day at a time, and I don’t want to look at my future now,” Durant told Yahoo Sports. “The [one-plus-one] was the perfect thing for me to do, to keep things open for me — financially and what I want to do. It’s just one of those things.”

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