So, to review, we’ve had Russell Westbrook calling out individual members of the media, we’ve had Marshawn Lynch refusing to answer questions from the media, and now we have Kevin Durant insulting the media in general.
Kevin Durant?! Yes, Kevin Durant.
The reigning NBA MVP and four-time scoring champion blasted the media during All-Star Weekend, telling them, “You guys really don’t know (expletive).”
Gosh, tell us how you really feel.
Durant’s harsh message is the latest example of the ever-changing dynamic between professional athletes and the media that cover them, with the relationship growing more cantankerous by the day.
Do we sense a legitimate shift here?
“Yes, I do,” CBS Sports NBA analyst Ian Eagle said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “And I think the biggest difference now that’s happened is social media and outlets in which athletes can share their own opinions. It’s unfiltered, and it’s not something that athletes really had an opportunity to do (years ago). If athletes were upset with media coverage, they would kind of grab one reporter or one television broadcaster or radio broadcaster aside and say, ‘Look, I want to tell my real story. I’m going to tell it to you.’
“Now they don’t have to do it,” Eagle continued. “There’s direct contact with the fans. And I think it’s a great thing in many ways, but it’s certainly created more of a chasm between the media and the athletes because the media can be considered a nuisance to many athletes that have dealt with it day-to-day.”
Eagles, for what it’s worth, has never had a problem with Durant.
“Kevin Durant has been terrific to deal with,” he said. “I’ll tell you just personal dealings, he’s been great. But I can understand frustration. I can understand that things can bubble over and in this day and age, if you want to go the contrarian route, you can – and still survive.”
In fact, Eagle believes that sports media could look drastically different in the next decade – and perhaps within the next few years. With more athletes airing their disgruntlements, there could be a snowball effect in terms of how they deal with – or don’t deal with – the media.
“Yeah, I think it is a game-changer, but let’s look at it in context,” Eagle said. “Most of these guys still require the media. They still need it. They’re still trying to build their brand. They’re still trying to avoid fines from their respective leagues. Most of the athletes, I think, are just going to go about their business the way they normally do. But the difference now is there will be a select group that says, ‘Hey, I can do it a different way. I’m making enough money to do it a different way. I’ve built up enough equity with the public to do it a different way.’ And it’s an option. It’s certainly an option.
“Kevin Durant is a big enough name, Marshawn Lynch is a big enough name, that other athletes that are coming through the ranks – that are in high school now, that are in college now – it’s going to plant a seed where they might eight years from now say, ‘Hey, I’m just going to do it that way. It’s easier for me.’”