Phil Jackson’s opinion of officials’ treatment toward Kevin Durant this season might fall on deaf ears with whatever referee crews are assigned to the first-round matchup between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
But the Lakers coach’s comments certainly drew the ire of the Thunder’s franchise player.
Jackson on Tuesday became the second person in the past two weeks to question the foul calls Durant has been awarded. Jackson told Los Angeles-area reporters that Durant, who leads the league with 10.3 foul shots per game, gets preferential treatment.
“Yeah, by the calls he gets, he really gets to the line a lot, I’ll tell ya,” Jackson is quoted as saying.
Durant, before wrapping up the scoring title Wednesday against Memphis, had his chance to respond.
“I respect Phil Jackson,” Durant started. “It really doesn’t matter, to be honest.”
But the longer Durant spoke, the more his true emotions went surfaced.
“Ever since KG said something, everybody’s been questioning how I get to the line,” Durant said, referring to Boston forward Kevin Garnett, who claimed after losing to the Thunder he thought he was playing, “Michael (expletive) Jordan.”
“If you watch our games, you wouldn’t question it. The NBA should put us on national T.V. more, I guess.”
When asked whether Jackson’s comment fired him up more, Durant, “Yeah, it does.”
“Because it’s taking away from what I do,” Durant said. “That’s a part of my game, getting to the free throw line and being aggressive. If you say that I get superstar calls or I get babied by the refs, that’s just taking away from how I play. That’s disrespectful to me. I don’t disrespect nobody in this league. I respect every coach, every player, everybody. I never say anything bad about anybody else or question why they do this or do that. So for them to say that about me, I don’t even want to use no foul language.”
Durant said he doesn’t think Jackson’s comments will have any influence on how the officials call the series.
“If the refs pay attention to that and change how they call things because of that, that’s terrible,” Durant said. “That’s terrible to the game of basketball and to us. If that happens, then (coach) Scotty (Brooks) could talk, too. Or any other coach could talk to just so the refs could switch everything up. But I doubt they do that. They’re smarter than that and they have more skills than that as refs. So I don’t really worry about it too much.”
Brooks said Durant deserves the calls he’s gotten this season because of his aggressiveness attacking the rim. The Thunder’s coach added that he’s not concerned with Jackson’s apparent attempt to work the referees.
And Durant didn’t care one bit that Jackson eventually linked the term “superstar” to him.
“Yeah,” he said, “but that’s after he said I get babied by the refs.”