The Western Conference finals, which tip off on Sunday, figures to be the best series of the playoffs so far. The Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs have been the two most impressive teams in the postseason by a wide margin, losing a whopping one game between them and seeming to have very few, if any, major weaknesses. It's the kind of series where predicting who will win is almost besides the point — really, it's best just to watch some great basketball and enjoy whatever happens.
In the meantime, though, we're all going to speculate about what might happen and how each team might attack the other. For the media, that means asking key players what they expect from the opposition. For some reason, Kevin Durant is tired of being asked these questions. From Darnell Mayberry for The Oklahoman (via SLAM):
Kevin Durant was just three minutes into his 10-minute session with reporters Wednesday when he grew a bit testy.
Of the first seven questions lobbed at him, Durant was forced to field five about the San Antonio Spurs. [...]
Once that fifth question came — a reasonable query about what he anticipates from the Spurs defensively against him — Durant tried to supply an answer but soon found himself swerving off script.
"I'm just going to play my game," Durant started. "I can't really think about how those guys are going to defend me. They're a tough defensive group. But every question is about how the Spurs are going to come and how the Spurs are going to play. But you got to ask me how we're going to come at them. We're a tough team as well. We come out and play hard. We have a lot of weapons as well. I know they're the No. 1 seed, they're a tough group and they haven't lost in a couple of months but I think that we bring another dimension to the table as well. And we can come out and compete."
The Spurs are the favorites in this series — they haven't lost since the second week of April and have looked flawless in their eight playoff games. Durant is right not to treat them like they're unbeatable, but it's also natural for the media to ask him and his Thunder teammates how they'll handle the challenge. The Spurs might not get quite as many questions about the Thunder as the Thunder have gotten about the Spurs, but they're being asked similar things. It's just what happens in a playoff series where both teams are really good.
More than anything, what Durant's doing is buying into an "us against the world" mentality that drives so many athletes. When basketball players feel disrespected, they gain a competitive advantage. Durant might be blowing this issue out of proportion, but it's also the sort of thing that athletes do all the time. What's interesting in this case is that, given the likely competitiveness of this series, the Thunder could become the favorite after one game. Durant might feel disrespected now, but he could also be the toast of the league in a week.
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