Phoenix Suns’ forward Kevin Durant (that still feels weird to write) has been known for plenty of feuds with the media, and for engagement with critics (media and fans) on social media in particular. On Sunday, he escalated a long-running feud with a prominent former Sun who’s now a prominent TV analyst. That would be WBD Sports’ Charles Barkley, who was interviewed by Jon Wertheim for a piece that aired on CBS’ 60 Minutes Sunday night.
As per usual for one of his interviews or on-air segments, Barkley dropped plenty of fiery takes. From calling the current state of men’s college basketball “a travesty and a disgrace” over NIL compensation, claiming it will lead to the NCAA having “25 schools that’s gonna dominate the sport cause they can afford players” (boy, did he pick the wrong NCAA Tournament to unleash that take) to discussing his multi-decade feud with Michael Jordan, he had a lot to say. And some of that was about Durant. And Durant decided to engage with it on Twitter, saying he’ll “never respect” Barkley’s words:
This ain’t gettin tiring chuck? I’ll never respect the words that come out ya mouth fam just deal with it https://t.co/ZGGCIs62El
— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) March 27, 2023
This where I’m at wit it… https://t.co/NG6EYf6SLm
— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) March 27, 2023
This comes on the heels of some previous criticisms Durant has lobbed at Barkley. The most recent came just 11 days ago on his own “The ETCs” podcast (with Eddie Gonzalez), which is from his Boardroom media company and Audacy’s Cadence13. There, as Durant bashed Barkley for “disrespecting my game as part of the storyline,” but, on their past interactions, said “I wouldn’t call it beef, he’s just mad opinionated and he feel like it’s his job to be mad opinionated in a negative way about players.” And he finished his complaints about Barkley (who’s far from the only media person he’s complained about, but is a recurring target for his criticism) with “You’re a legend in the game, and we respect you for what you’ve done, but when you try to tear people apart for what they did different ways and basically bully people because you’re in the media, it’s disappointing. But it is what it is, it’s a part of the storyline.”
.@KDTrey5 on Charles Barkley:
"He's a fucking legend that I've got nothing but respect for… I'm gonna play with pride knowing that he put blood, sweat and tears into this organization. … As an analyst, I don't really fuck with your approach."
?: https://t.co/gnVlNwemcP pic.twitter.com/ZXtielFH3S
— Boardroom (@boardroom) March 15, 2023
And then when Gonzalez asked about playing for a Suns team where Barkley shone as a player, Durant says “He’s a f****** legend that I’ve got nothing but respect for, and when I look up [at Barkley’s retired jersey], I’m going to play with pride knowing that he put blood, sweat, and tears into this organization. That ain’t got nothing to do with how he is as an analyst. I don’t agree with how he approaches the game. But he’s a Hall of Famer. But his game as an analyst, I don’t really f*** with that approach.”
So there’s certainly some criticism there for Barkley as an analyst before this latest pushback. It is interesting that the Boardroom account chose to focus more on tweeting Durant’s positive quotes on Barkley as a player than his negative quotes on Barkley as an analyst. And that fits with some of the criticisms many have lobbed at basketball’s “new media” in general and at Durant’s podcast in particular. But at least they included some of the negative quotes on Barkley as well as the praise.
Durant can absolutely continue to push back on Barkley’s comments. And it should be noted that he’s not alone. Many pointed out that it’s interesting to see Barkley opine on Durant being ‘part of that generation who think he can’t be criticized’ considering his own history with criticism during his playing career:
Charles, of course, always accepted criticism and welcomed people questioning his approach to his profession. pic.twitter.com/0pfSqlpZCQ
— Jared Wade (@Jared_Wade) March 27, 2023
And, as Durant notes in that quote tweet follow-up, Barkley’s comments here aren’t criticism of Durant’s on-court play, but shots at how he handles himself off the court. It’s understandable why that might be more notable for Durant to respond to than if this had just been analysis of his play. And he has been facing some rather silly off-court criticism recently, so there’s that context as well. But it is interesting that Durant chose to personally engage with this clip on social media, especially as it’s a clip accusing him of being too sensitive to criticism, and especially as his social media interactions (either with burners or under his own name) seem to be part of what Barkley was talking about. (And it’s interesting to see Durant weigh in on Barkley comments in particular on Twitter, and do so in a way personally addressed to him rather than just commenting on the quote, as Barkley has famously said he will never join Twitter.)
It’s also interesting that Durant talked about “respect” for Barkley again 11 days after his last comment on that. Of course, he didn’t necessarily change his stance here. In the Boardroom podcast, Durant spelled out that he respects Barkley’s playing career, but doesn’t appreciate his approach to analysis. But he dropped a much harder line on his lack of respect for Barkley’s analysis Sunday than anything he had he said before.
[Kevin Durant on Twitter; top left photo of Durant from March 16, top right photo of Barkley on Jan. 21, both at the Suns’ Footprint Center, and both from Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports]