Skeptics love to roll their eyes when writers pen loving odes to, as if he's become the white knight in pro basketball while everyone else lives in sin on the dark side. And some of the criticism's fair, to an extent, but it ignores the basic problem with writing about Kevin Durant: He's basically impossible to criticize.
We joke about this and call him "Saint Kevin", but it's still true in a totally tangible way.
The latest ESPN Magazine profile—"Kevin Can Wait"—is just the latest example. From there, we learn he's never been in love, he didn't party much at Texas, he has no regrets, and he cried when thelost in the playoffs.
From Allison Glock at ESPN The Magazine, a few things you might not know about Durant:
He has never been in love.
He has a music production studio in his house.
He has been known to rap.
His back tattoo took eight hours.
It isn't finished.
His inner voice is often "just a buzzing noise."
He used to sleep in church.
He has no regrets (not even missing the prom).
"My whole time at school, I went to one party," he says. "I was in basketball shorts and shoes. I didn't like it. It was out of my realm. I was very shy. I didn't have many friends. To this day, I still walk with my head down."
If he had 48 hours to live, he would spend it with his family ... in the gym.
The last time he cried was in 2010, when the Thunder lost to the Lakers in the playoffs.
The first time somebody wanted a picture with him was when he was a junior in high school. "I asked, 'Why?' And they said, 'Because you are going to be famous someday.'"
There's a whole lot more in the full article, but that particular section is the most telling as far as Durant's concerned. Even the strange, irrelevant details just embellish the halo over his head.
He'd spend his last 48 hours in the gym, for God's sake.
This is what makes him the ideal white knight for a bunch of today's columnists jaded against today's superstars, and the ideal talking point for a bunch of today's bloggers jaded against those columnists and their naivete. But all the while there's KD, himself, and the more we find out about the guy, the more he really seems like one of the most genuine, down-to-earth dudes you'd encounter anywhere. NBA superstar or not, he's also just a guy that loves his job, loves his family, and keeps everything else pretty simple.
Since his rise to superduperstardom is as inevitable as the constant tug of war between myth and reality and cynicism and naivete and everything else that defines today's news, it's a good bet that at some point there will be backlash against all the praise. We've already seen some of it. ("The sports media celebrate Kevin Durant for being someone he isn't"; Kevin Durant's Beautiful Mirages)
There are good arguments on both sides, and to some degree Durant's always going to embody a much broader debate about narrative and how we understand the superstars of today. But even if the debate gets louder among fans, bloggers, and starry-eyed columnists falling all over themselves to deify him, don't forget to appreciate the real Kevin Durant.
The devil—or saint, maybe—is in the details.