OAKLAND, Calif. — Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant told ESPN that the reason for his ejection uptick this season is due to a burning desire to repeat as an NBA champion.
“It’s just my emotions and passion for the game,” Durant said after Friday’s practice session. “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.
“What we did as a team was special, and I want to experience that again. 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.”
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In his first game back from a six-game absence to recover from a rib injury, Durant picked up his 13th and 14th technical fouls of the season, within seconds of each other, resulting in an automatic ejection late in the second quarter of Thursday’s loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.
In arguing his case that he was fouled numerous times in the first half without receiving the benefit of a whistle, he was seen shouting obscenities at official Tre Maddox. Durant told ESPN, “I deserved that ejection. He did the right thing.”
Prior to the 2017-18 season getting underway, Durant had only one ejection in his first 10 years in the league. He’s up to five this season. And his 14 technicals overall are two away from an automatic one-game suspension.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr sent Durant a text message after Thursday’s game, encouraging the forward to put the ejection behind him and move forward.
Golden State has seven games remaining in the regular season. And with the stakes even higher at that point, Durant said he’ll be on the up-and-up.
“I’ll be good,” he said. “We’re trying to win another championship. That’s why we’re playing. Everything will be fine.”
Many have wondered all season what has gotten into Durant, and at times that line of questioning has irritated the 2017 NBA Finals MVP.
“It’s just a part of the evolution that I’m going through,” Durant told ESPN. “I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not perfect. I don’t have all the answers. It will probably take the offseason for me to assess, ‘OK, let’s figure out how to tone this down a little.’ But I’m comfortable sharing this because all I care about is that,” he said as he pointed to the practice court.
“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.”