When asked by FanHouse if he wants to play for Team USA in the World Championships next summer in Turkey, the Oklahoma City forward couldn't stop talking about how badly he wants to represent his country. Sounds as if he'd settle for the role of scorekeeper.
Asked, though, about wanting to play next February in his first All-Star Game, Durant mostly just shrugged. This is apparently not a good time to be talking about such an individual accomplishment.
Durant made news on his Twitter page last Sunday by responding to an Oct. 9 ESPN TrueHoop post that, due to his poor plus-minus rating, Durant "has been killing his team.''
News travels fast these days. Soon, Durant's thoughts were all over the Internet.
Looking back a few days later, Durant wondered if he should have held his tongue, er, keyboard.
"I felt like I wanted to defend myself,'' Durant said in an interview with FanHouse while the Thunder was in Tulsa for Wednesday's 96-91 preseason win over Miami. "I've let a lot of stuff slide. I shouldn't have done it. But when contributions to this team [are questioned], I got kind of offended because I'm passionate and emotional about all that stuff. I try to do everything to my best of my ability. Some people overlook that, and don't see how hard we work every day.''
So why did Durant regret expressing himself on Twitter the way he did?
"I didn't think it would be out there,'' he said. "I'm not a like a Dwyane Wade or a Kobe Bryant that everything they do is out there. I just wanted to express how much I care for this team, and how hard I work for this team, and I want to see us get better. I was standing up for what I thought was right. I thought it was appropriate to share how passionate I am for this game.''
So what did Durant learn after he saw his comments get picked up by all sorts of Web sites?
"I guess that's why it's called the World Wide Web,'' he said.
After Durant's Twitter posting, Henry Abbott, the author of the original TrueHoop post, came out with another post pointing out he had been complimentary about Durant but that his plus-minus numbers can't be overlooked. Durant, who admitted he didn't read all of Abbott's original blog, didn't deny that.
"It was mostly complimentary,'' said Durant, who said he had friends who alerted him last weekend about Abbott's blog and then he read "just a little bit of it. But I think when he said I hurt my team, I took that to heart because I go to battle with these guys every day. They know that. That kind of hurt me. But it is was it is. That's what his stats are about. So I just got to do a better job of playing harder for my team.''
Durant, it seems, did not fully grasp that Abbott, using numbers compiled by Dallas Mavericks statistical expert Wayne Winston, was analyzing confounding statistics much more so than expressing that Durant is lacking as a player. Of course lost in much of this cyber-battling is the question: Why in the world has Durant had such crummy plus-minus ratings over two NBA seasons.
"I really don't know,'' Durant said. "It might be small things. I really don't know. I know that I come out and try to do my best for my team, and work hard every day for my team. I'm doing all I can.''
His head coach doesn't doubt that.
"All I know is that Kevin Durant has a chance to be a special player,'' said coach Scott Brooks, who can't say for sure why Durant's plus-minus ratings have been unflattering, but that it's just one of many statistics he looks at and isn't too concerned. "He works as hard as anybody on our team. He's coachable. He does exactly what good teammates do. He's not about himself. More important, he's focusing on helping our team get better. Everybody I've talked to, from players to coaches to general managers, they like Kevin Durant.''
With that in mind, many believe Durant, who averaged 20.3 points as a rookie in 2007-08 and 25.3 last season, is a good bet to play next February in his first NBA All-Star Game. But Durant isn't getting into such talk now.
"I'm not thinking about that,'' Durant said. "If anybody tells you coming into this league they don't want to be an All-Star, they're lying. That's a goal that everybody wants to achieve. But I'm not thinking about that right now. I want to help out my team.''
But there is one team other than the Thunder that Durant is thinking about. This one wears red, white and blue.
USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo told FanHouse last month that "Durant is going to replace somebody'' off the team that won the Olympics last year in Beijing and will head to Turkey next summer for the World Championships. Durant's inclusion looks like even more of a slam dunk considering Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Michael Redd are among holdovers from the Olympic team who are wavering about committing to the World Championships.
"I just want to be on that team,'' Durant said of Team USA next summer. "I'll do anything. I had thought most of [the players] were coming back. But, if not, I'll gladly take their place. I just want to be part of that team. It doesn't matter if I'm the last guy or the first guy.
"It would mean a lot to represent a whole country that looks up to its players. It would mean a lot to me, to my family and to my friends. Just to go back home to a small town in Maryland [Suitland] and say I represented my whole country would mean a lot.''
Two of Durant's teammates, who joined him at last summer's USA Basketball camp in Las Vegas for young players, also say they want to play in Turkey next summer. Guard Russell Westbrook said, "I would love to represent my country.'' Forward Jeff Green said, "Representing my country has always been a dream of mine.''
Westbrook has a decent chance considering the Americans might need a third point guard behind Chris Paul and Deron Williams. But Green is a long shot.
Both Westbrook and Green, though, don't dispute Durant is all but a lock to be on Team USA next summer.
"He's done a great job [at Team USA camps], and he's got a high possibility of making the team,'' Westbrook said.
There apparently has been no word on what Durant's plus-minus ratings have been for USA Basketball.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.