-- OKLAHOMA CITY -- After his shootaround availability Sunday morning, Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant had something he wanted to "get off his chest" in regard to the media and his relationship with it.
"I also got something else to say, if you guys don't mind," Durant said, unprompted by any question. "I've seen over the last couple of days, or couple of years, actually, that I hate the media. I actually do love you guys. If I hated someone, I wouldn't talk to them, I wouldn't interact with them, I wouldn't laugh and joke with them, I wouldn't talk about anything other than what you guys ask me."
Durant's statement was provoked by reaction to something he told ESPN.com after the Thunder's win Friday against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Asked about the perception of the Thunder and why he felt they aren't considered a contender along with the likes of the Warriors, Spurs and Cavaliers, Durant said, "Man, the [media and experts] are always trying to nitpick us. I mean, they don't like us. They don't like how Russell [Westbrook] talks to the media, they don't like how I talk to the media. So obviously, yeah, they're not going to give us the benefit of the doubt."
On Sunday, Durant attempted to clarify his thoughts.
"When I disagree, that doesn't mean I hate you guys. My whole deal is to spark a conversation and hopefully we can talk about the topic, or whatever it is at hand that we can talk about, and we can all grow from there," he said. "What you guys really want is someone who's open and honest with you, and who's opinionated. And that's what I am."
The tension between Durant and some of the media extends back to last season's All-Star Weekend, where Durant said, "You guys really don't know s---," after being asked about the job security of his then-coach, Scott Brooks.
He had a dustup in October with ESPN's Stephen A. Smith over rumors about his future free-agency decision. Durant also took aim at the media earlier this season, rebuking it for the way Kobe Bryant was being covered.
"I've been disappointed this year because you guys [the media] treated him like s---," Durant said.
The outbursts led some to believe this was a change in image for Durant, going from an aw-shucks, backpack-wearing humble guy to more of a hardened, take-no-prisoners superstar. Durant, though, says nothing is different.
"I haven't changed, I'm the same person. I just grew as a man," he said Sunday. "So hopefully you can appreciate it and know that I don't hate you. That's a harsh word, and my mom never brought me up to be a hater of anyone. I always believe if I'm open and honest and opinionated that I can grow as a person, and you can learn that's what I'm about.
"The main goal is to help the fans know the game a little bit more than they know today," he said. "So that's my goal, and hopefully that's your goal instead of getting headlines or clicks. That's my take on it, that's the last time I'll talk about it, but it's something I had to get off my chest. I appreciate it."