Charles Barkley attracted controversy once again after comparing Kevin Durant to a mere bus rider when he moved to the 73-win Golden State Warriors squad in 2016. While most critics agreed with Barkley, the NBA icon backpedaled on his statements by clarifying his definitions.
Barkley pointed out that he didn’t claim Durant was a slacker during his stint with the Warriors. In fact, Durant was one of the critical components of those two titles. Yes, Durant had two of the greatest shooters by his side along with Draymond Green, but Barkley believes Durant’ played an equally significant part as well. What Barkley meant was that with the Brooklyn Nets, Durant is the definite franchise guy along with Kyrie Irving. As such, the former MVP has bigger chores to do.
“I hate when these fools, idiots, and try jackasses on TV try to parse what I say. Kevin Durant is a great, great player,” Barkley said. “When I talked about bus riders last night, I think people are trying to say I was saying he was a freeloader on the bus. He was a very important part of them winning those two championships. But the point I was making was, when you are the guy on a team, your responsibilities change. You’re not allowed to have bad games. That’s just the responsibility that goes with being a great player. And like I said, he’s got his own bus now, which is the point I was trying to make. I ain’t never gonna bad mouth Kevin, I think he’s a great player and a great kid. Now he’s the leader. He’s the clear-cut bus driver.”
Durant fans slammed Barkley for his initial comments. They pointed out the fact that Barkley had never won a championship ring in his NBA career. While he’s a legend and well-respected in the game, there are certain lines he shouldn’t cross.
Whatever the case may be, Barkley’s comments still hold a lot of weight. Durant has a reputation as one of the most lethal scorers in history. This tag alone carries many expectations. When he and Irving joined forces in Brooklyn, fans were reminded of the previous stars who also decided to don the same jersey. Many felt that the Nets were bonafide contenders with the two icons around.
But things have not panned the way everyone envisioned. When this happens, legacies are evaluated and questioned. That is what’s happening to Durant. His fans can only place the blame on injuries or uncooperative teammates for so long. At the end of the day, Durant is the common denominator in all those seasons where he failed to lead his team to the promised land.
Maybe Durant doesn’t belong to the same ilk as Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, or LeBron James. In the grand scheme of things, there’s nothing wrong with it. There’s a good reason why we call them once-in-a-generation athletes. But in the beady eyes of critics, Durant is their next prey. Once he’s done playing the game, his legacy will be questioned over and over again.