Kevin Durant fires back at Charles Barkley for calling him a 'bus rider' after playoff sweep

Kevin Durant's basketball season is over.

But the social media petty never stops working. Now he's got Charles Barkley in his crosshairs.

The vanquished Brooklyn Nets forward joined his teammates in elimination from the playoffs on Monday, courtesy of a sweep at the hands of the Boston Celtics. After the game, Barkley was his typical candid self on TNT's "Inside the NBA" and took Durant to task for being a "bus rider." Whatever that means.

"I don't want to badmouth the dude," Barkley said before badmouthing the dude. "You guys always talk about that championship stuff. I try to tell y'all. All these bus riders. They don't mean nothing to me. If you ain't driving the bus, don't walk around talking about you a champion.

"If you riding the bus, I don't want to hear it. All these guys walking around with championship rings, y'all bus riders. When you the bus driver and you've got all that pressure where you have to play well or you're gonna get the blame. That's a different animal."

Notice Kenny Smith — who appears to fit Barkley's definition of "bus rider" for his role winning two championships alongside Hakeem Olajuwon — silently rolling his fingers on the desk during Barkley's diatribe. But it's Durant who truly took offense to Barkley's take. Naturally.

KD strikes back

On Tuesday morning, with no basketball to prepare for, Durant took to Instagram to fire back with examples of all the times he believes Barkley was, in fact, a "bus rider" during his NBA career.

His chosen examples include Barkley standing alongside Olajuwon, Scottie Pippen and Clyde Drexler as a member of the Houston Rockets late in his career. And, touché, KD. That's as prime of an example of past-your-prime ring chasing as exists in sports.

But it's the Philadelphia 76ers shots that have the chance to land the most damage. Durant also included images of Barkley standing alongside fellow franchise icons Julius Irving, Moses Malone and Maurice Cheeks, with one also including Andrew Toney captioned: "Where would Chuck be without the big homies."

Durant declined the low blow of pointing out Barkley's championship tally. But he made his point.

Meanwhile, Barkley's point to begin with wasn't exactly clear. "Bus riders" in this instance are obviously role players while "bus drivers" are stars on contenders carrying the burden of bringing a championship home — or not, in his case. By this definition, Durant is most certainly a bus driver. While he attempted to assemble a super team in Brooklyn, Durant's most definitely driving that bus with Kyrie Irving as his co-pilot.

Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) reacts as his team trails during the second half of Game 4 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Boston Celtics, Monday, April 25, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Kevin Durant appears ready to shift his full focus to social media beefs. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

No, it appears to be more of a shot at Durant's time in Golden State, where he joined a Warriors team that had been to consecutive NBA Finals and won an NBA championship without him. He might have been the best player, but Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green appear to be Barkley's designated "bus drivers" on those 2017 and '18 title teams.

Whatever Barkley's point was, Durant, who's officially moved on to his offseason, was anticipating a retort from Barkley Tuesday night.

And he got one during TNT's pregame show, when Barkley led with a question about Brooklyn's play-in banner.

In the end, Barkley and Co. went relatively easy on Durant on Tuesday. It sounds like Durant was expecting — maybe even hoping for — more.