If you were starting an NBA team today and you had to pick five franchise players you would want to potentially build that team around, surely you would include Kevin Durant in the mix. You might not put him at the top of your list, but are there really five NBA players better than KD right now?
Easy answer: No.
ESPN anchors David Lloyd and Cari Champion unveiled their lists on SportsCenter yesterday, though, and both of them left KD out of their top fives. That prompted a visit to the SportsCenter set from Chris Broussard, who asked them both to explain why they didn’t include KD. Lloyd said that he left KD out because of all the injuries he has suffered in recent seasons, which is understandable, but Champion went in a completely different direction with her explanation. She said that KD “doesn’t have as much heart” as the five guys on her list—she included LeBron James, Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, and Draymond Green—and stuck by that assessment, even as Broussard scoffed at it.
“He doesn’t have heart,” she said. “Kevin Durant doesn’t have a lot of heart. He just doesn’t.”
Champion is obviously entitled to put whoever she wants to put on her list, but that's a weird statement to make about a guy like KD. The injury aspect is one thing, but questioning a guy’s heart? Yikes. That’s the kind of take that would get Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless—the analysts Champion used to work with when she hosted ESPN’s First Take—destroyed on social media. And while KD himself hasn't responded to what Champion said, Damian Lillard saw the SportsCenter segment and was quick to call Champion out for talking about KD’s heart:
He also responded to followers who tried to call him out for referring to Champion as “this woman”:
And he gave a key to a guy who sent out a bunch of tweets about how #THEY (the media) don't have any idea what they're talking about when it comes to the NBA: