Durant famously joined the Warriors after being knocked out by them in the playoffs while a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder. He then won back-to-back Finals MVPs as a member of the Warriors before leaving to join the Nets.
This decision resulted in tons of backlash, and fans are still giving him a tough time to this day. One prominent critic is NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley. The former superstar took a shot at Durant back in April.
“All these bus riders, they don’t mean nothing to me,” he said. “If you ain’t driving the bus, don’t walk around talking about ‘you a champion.’ If you’re riding the bus, I don’t want to hear it. Come on Shaq, tell’ em. All these guys walk around with these championship rings. Hey, ya’ll bus riders. But let me tell you something. When you’re the bus driver and you got all that pressure when you have to play well or you going to get the blame? That’s a different animal.”
Barkley hasn’t let up on his criticism and said that Durant wouldn’t win over the media until he wins without the Warriors.
Barkley Takes Aim
Speaking as a guest on the June 17 episode of ESPN’s Get Up, Barkley said Durant needs to win a championship as a bus driver if he wants to get everybody off his back.
“Before KD gets that great respect from all the old heads, he’s going to have to win a championship as the guy, as the bus driver,” he said. “Listen, he joined that team that had already won a championship so no disrespect, that’s just a fact.”
Durant left Golden State after a loss to Toronto in the Finals to join the Brooklyn Nets with Kyrie Irving. For a variety of different reasons over the years, the Nets haven’t sniffed a championship while Steph Curry hoisted his fourth.
“Until he is the guy on a championship team, we’re not going to ever give him the respect, I mean, that he probably deserves and that’s just the way it is.”
What Does Durant Have to Prove?
At this stage in his career, Durant’s legacy is largely set as he’s on the NBA 75 team, he’s won championships, won an MVP and has been named to numerous All-NBA and All-Star teams.
While winning a championship without the Warriors would be nice, it’s all just icing on the cake at this point. He’s more than solidified himself as one of the best players to ever play the game. Nets fans would love to see him help bring a championship to Brooklyn, and while that’s his goal, he would likely be resting easy if it doesn’t happen.
The Nets have an important offseason ahead of them as they’ll have to figure out who fills out the roster around Ben Simmons, Kyrie Irving and Durant.