Kevin Durant has been in the middle of some shouting matches with spectators this season.
In Portland, he got into it with a guy behind the scorer's table. In Washington, he repeatedly told a guy to “watch your mouth.” In Orlando, he had an extended back-and-forth.
And in Atlanta, it got so heated between he, some teammates and a courtside fan, that they had to be forcibly separated before a situation escalated.
The common denominator each time: An overzealous fan started hurling insults, and Durant felt it worthy of a response.
“I just put it like this,” Durant said. “If you wouldn't say that if we were walking down the street, then you should keep that to yourself.”
So it's no wonder that Durant, in some respects, sides with Marcus Smart in the sporting world's most recent controversy. On Saturday night, Smart shoved a heckling fan in Lubbock, which earned Smart a three-game suspension.
“I played in that place my one year at Texas, and those fans say some crazy stuff to you,” Durant said. “But he's a (19)-year-old kid, heat of the moment. It's easy for you guys to judge him because you've never been in that situation, but I'm sure he regrets it, made a mistake and I'm sure he'll learn from it.”
Durant even went as far as to say, “I'm not sure I would have reacted any different.” But his history suggests otherwise. Despite being verbally provoked plenty of times, Durant has never had a physical altercation with a fan.
But Metta World Peace, formerly known as Ron Artest, can't say the same. Back in 2004, he was the central figure of one of the ugliest incidents in sports history. A fan threw a beer at Artest, he charged into the stands, started throwing punches and incited an arena-wide brawl.