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.
By coincidence, World Peace, now a member of the New York Knicks, was in Oklahoma City on Sunday. And he provided some unique perspective on the Smart situation.
“At 19 years old, when I came out of St. John's, I was fresh out the hood, fresh out of Queensbridge,” World Peace said. “So my mentality was still a struggle, defensive and things like that. So I wasn't really conscious.
“But I'm 34 years old now. (Smart's) a young kid. I wish I would have listened when I was a kid, to my elders or to people who had my best interest at heart. And then I wish I would have been more conscious at my age. Those are two things that if you were to reach out to a kid like Marcus, a talented kid, a future leader in the community, you would tell him those things.”
Within the Thunder and Knicks locker rooms, Smart seemed to have the support of players who will eventually become his peers. Whether it was in conversations off to the side or in comments to the media, the general consensus seemed to be “lesson learned.”
“We're all human,” Durant said. “Words do hurt. Some things should be kept to yourself, but that's the name of the game. Marcus Smart is a good kid. We should all love on him and show him some grace and move past it.”