Storm over headline slamming Thunder's Durant
May 3, 2014, 12:02 am TWN
LOS ANGELES -- The Oklahoman newspaper was at the center of a storm Wednesday over a headline criticizing Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant, a frontrunner for the NBA Most Valuable Player award.
Even Durant's mother weighed in on the headline, which screamed "Mr. Unreliable" over a picture of Durant unable to corral the ball in a game against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Mike Sherman, sports editor of the Oklahoma, issued a statement saying the headline "missed the mark."
"The words were overstated and unduly harsh," Sherman said. "The headline and presentation left the impression that we were commenting on Durant's season, career or even character. We were not. We were referring only to the Memphis series."
The Thunder, seeded second in the Western Conference playoffs, are fighting for their post-season lives against the over-achieving Grizzlies, who took a 3-2 series lead into game six on Thursday night in Memphis and had a chance to complete an upset triumph.
Sherman said response to the headline from readers "is proof that we failed."
Durant's mother, Wanda Pratt, was among those complaining.
"Typical Oklahoman on Kevin," she said on her @MamaDurant Twitter feed. "UNBELIEVABLE! KEVIN is RELIABLE!!!"
During the regular season, Durant put together a streak of 41 straight games scoring 25 points or more, surpassing Michael Jordan for the third-longest such streak in NBA history.
Oscar Robertson had a 46-game run of 25-plus points back in 1963-64 and Wilt Chamberlain did it in all 80 regular-season games of the 1961-62 season — both of those streaks coming before the three-point era.
It was Durant's dunk with 16.5 seconds to play that lifted the Thunder to a 112-111 victory over Detroit in the final game of the regular season and secured the second seed in the West for the team ahead of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Durant also claimed his fourth NBA scoring title in the past five years, although in the first-round series against Memphis he has shot just 40 percent and made just 15-of-45 over the last two games.
Durant, speaking to reporters at the team's morning shoot-around before Thursday's must-win game in Memphis, tried to take the high road.
"It's all about what have you done for me lately, and I understand that," he said.